Is it possible to effect both positive and negative reinforcement through the same action?

Is it possible to effect both positive and negative reinforcement through the same action?

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Consider the following scenario: a rhesus monkey is being put under severe duress somehow (isolation, sense of physical threat, whathaveyou). It is desired that a behavior, like pressing a lever, is increased. Let's say administration of a CNS depressant as a reward is used to try to get this outcome. This could possibly be seen as positive reinforcement (due to euphoriant effects in themselves) and as negative reinforcement (because stress is being taken away). Is it possible to model both sides of this picture and is this done in practice?


In fact, the modern view of positive and negative reinforcement is that they are essentially synonyms. They are different ways of looking at the same thing, like describing a glass of water based on how full or how empty it is:

In this paper, we reconsider the issue from the perspective of 30 years. However, we could not find new evidence in contemporary research and theory that allows reliable classification of an event as a positive rather than a negative reinforcer.

Wikipedia as well:

Distinguishing between positive and negative can be difficult and may not always be necessary; focusing on what is being removed or added and how it is being removed or added will determine the nature of the reinforcement.

Effects of Positive Attitude in the Workplace:

Here are some of the effects of being positive at work!

1. No stress:

To start off, it is much healthier for people around you to be themselves.

When you are a positive person and are spreading positivity around you, several things are going to change at your workplace in a better and more positive manner.

Several studies have started to show that stress can really bring about life threatening diseases, fatigue, insomnia and mental problems which could damage and ruin your body with time.

Not just that, stress could rip you out and lead to long term side effects as well.

So its actually better to have a positive atmosphere and that can only happen when you have a good attitude.

2. Your peers will be happy:

The stress level at work will definitely reduce when you are at work. Your peers will be happy with you and begin to help you with your thoughts and ideas as well.

Whether you are scattered or simply cannot organize your thoughts or send mails, if you lash out in anger, you will never be able to make others happy.

But if you have a positive attitudes and behaviours at work, automatically your peers will be happy with you and will want to be around you more often.

Happy people also makes others happy. They can really help the company grow in the future.

3. Makes you more secure:

One of the best and wonderful benefits of having a positive attitude at work is that it provides you with job security.

You are never going to get fired for having a good attitude. In fact it is the positivity that will shine and help others see the good side of you.

Plus when you are nice, kind and generous to others, you can actually create a very good impression and make yourself eligible for promotion at your work place.

So don’t ever make the mistake of showing off a bad attitude! Be nice and kind to more people and it will pay off.

4. More cooperative:

Having a good attitude is not just good for healthy body and mind but also something that you need for a better life. But for this you will have to take steps to get to the happy place you want to be.

You might not get the career you have dreamt of if you have bad attitude. It will not help you reach your goals either.

You shall be pushed down and people will not want to be with you since you are not cooperating. But if you do the exact opposite, your life will show some drastic changes and help you reach goals as well.

5. Empowering:

Finally, a positive attitude can really empower you and help you do much better at work.

There can be times when you probably have to deal with several tasks that you really don’t like or meet deadlines that are ridiculous and work way too hard than you ever expected.

But if you can still maintain a positive attitude regardless of that, you could really go a long way.

If you aren’t able to do a task well or perform, we understand it is not easy but showing positivity will really prove to be a beneficial thing in the future. Those who are positive at workplace will understand this point.

6. Better control:

You must always remember that this is your life and that you control your decisions, your path and your life.

So there is no need to be more afraid of the job you are doing and search for something better.

Apart from the difficulties you share with others inside your office, make sure to be forthright and rational. There are several people who will be wanting to meet you because of good behaviour.

So let them know by showing your actions to them. There will always be an HR department if you find anything else failing.

Is it possible to effect both positive and negative reinforcement through the same action? - Psychology

Center for Southern New Hampshire University Programs, HELP College of Arts and Technology, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Email: [email protected], [email protected]

Received June 15 th , 2013 revised July 15 th , 2013 accepted July 22 nd , 2014

Each employee’s performance is important in an organization. A way to motivate it is through the application of reinforcement theory which is developed by B. F. Skinner. One of the most commonly used methods is positive reinforcement in which one’s behavior is strengthened or increased based on consequences. This paper aims to review the impact of positive reinforcement on the performances of employees in organizations. It can be applied by utilizing extrinsic reward or intrinsic reward. Extrinsic rewards include salary, bonus and fringe benefit while intrinsic rewards are praise, encouragement and empowerment. By applying positive reinforcement in these factors, desired positive behaviors are encouraged and negative behaviors are eliminated. Financial and non-financial incentives have a positive relationship with the efficiency and effectiveness of staffs.

Keywords:Positive Reinforcement Employees’ Performance Motivation

Over the years, managers are more concerned on employees’ performances in terms of productivity and efficiency. It is very important as it affects an organization as a whole. One of the ways to provide motivation is through the application of reinforcement theory. B. F. Skinner introduced the reinforcement theory, also known as learning theory. It refers to the stimuli used to produce desired behaviors with different occurrences and schedules [1]. This paper aims to examine the productivity of employees as a result of the implementation of reinforcement theory, specifically in positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is a technique to elicit and to strengthen new behaviors by adding rewards and incentives instead of eliminating benefits [2]. It can be applied in workplace through fringe benefit, promotion chances and pay. Rewards can be classified into two categories which are intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic reward refers to something intangible such as praise and acknowledgement while extrinsic reward is salary, promotion, freedom in office and job security. Both types of rewards are closely associated with staffs’ accomplishments within an organization [3,4].

One of the basic motivations for employees to work is salary. Linz and Semykina [5] revealed that personal income is positively correlated to job satisfaction. A study of Taiwan R&D professionals in technology sector found out that monetary incentives based on output has a positive relationship with their work performance. Besides, the monitoring cost is reduced and it became more competitive among the staffs [6]. According to Liu [7], Huawei, a Chinese information technology company offers a high basic salary and the amount is still going up every year. In comparison to other new undergraduates and graduates, Huawei pays at least RMB 4000 higher than the average rate. Huawei’s reward strategy to their employees greatly increased the organization’s productivity. On the other hand, engineers in Huawei earns from $ 6600 to $ 22,000 annually, depending on their performance. The performance based technique can greatly increase the attentiveness and alertness of staffs [8].

The United States Postal Service (USPS) executed the pay-for-performance since 1995 and it made a significant impact to the organizations. The program counterbalanced the consistent net loss for the past 24 years which summed up to ten billion dollars. With the implementation of the program, the USPS not only improved drastically in financials, but in delivery punctuality, workplace safety and also efficiency [9]. When a portion of wages are reliant on performance, employees tend to work harder. However, it may lead to a vast impact to some of them because they stopped performing when pay was only reliant on their attendances in work [10].

Fringe benefit is also another instrument used in reinforcing staffs. In the year 2013, Google, Inc. ranked first in Fortune as the best company to work for. Google is well-known for its benefits for the employees. Google offers a variety of benefits such as complimentary food from cafeteria, childcare feature, healthcare, laundry services, shuttle bus, sports facilities, and a lot of holidays and even lessons for foreign languages [11]. When employees are rewarded for their performances, they will most likely to increase the behavior and perform better. Therefore, monetary or extrinsic rewards reinforced employees’ work behavior positively [12].

Another type of positive reinforcement is intrinsic reward. It involves something other than financial motivation. It can be mere praise, delegation, empowerment or acknowledgement, but it has an impact on employee’s performance in a positive way [13,14]. When employees obtain acknowledgement from managers or supervisors as a result of their job well done, they will feel appreciated and have a sense of belonging to the company [15]. This is highly valued by staffs and it is very likely that they will strive to perform better [3].

In “The Carrot Principle” findings, it was shown that 65 percent of respondents did not receive any forms of recognition and 79 percent reported that the lack of appreciation is the main reason for quitting the organization. Those employees of highest enthusiasm, 94.4% responded that managers have recognized their competence. It showed a significant need for staffs to be recognized in order for them to be more effective in their performances. Organizations that successfully identify the brilliance have a propensity to be more lucrative and it is reported that they can gain more than three times of return [16].

More than that, Wynter-Palmer and Jennifer [17] stated that empowerment or a sense of authority given to employees is used to reinforce own capability and also enhance decision making skills at work. A study conducted in Golestan Telecommunication Company located in Iran showed that empowerment significantly improved the work performance [18]. Ritz-Carlton, a chain hotel is well-known for its gold class service. If there is a complaint or request from customer, the management allows their staffs to use up to $ 2000 without manager’s permission and with an approval, the amount will go higher. Ritz-Carlton demonstrated the trust and confidence to empower their staffs in order to make each of the customers satisfied [19]. In return, employees feel more satisfied with their jobs and heighten their commitment level to the company. When they give their best to the company, customers will be pleased and as a result, there will be a positive growth in revenues and profits [20,21].

Punishment is a tool used to remove unwanted or undesired actions and it can be used to decrease the intensity of behaviors [22]. Based on a study done on employees’ punctuality to work, it was revealed that employees who are penalized for being late to work are effective. The percentage of employees who are late dropped 66% and 55% of them actually reported to work earlier. It demonstrated that employees who paid fines to their colleague are more successful than paying to their employer in improving their punctuality [23].

It is found that positive reinforcement, both intrinsically and extrinsically is positively linked with the performance of employees [24]. Positive reinforcement is highly effective in strengthening and increasing behaviors. The type of reinforcement tools incorporate salary, performance-based incentives and fringe benefits. All of these encourage employees to present their best to the corporate and to sustain at the peak. Balliet, Mulder and Van Lange [25] pointed out that rewards are more effective when it is more expensive to operate. It seemed to be more valuable and more attractive, so it attains a better response. Islam and Ismail [26] pointed out the six major motivation factors for employees incorporate high salary, comfortable working condition, promotion, challenging work, job security and appreciation shown on work done. Another research provided evidences that monetary rewards offered a higher motivation to employees in comparison with non-monetary reward [27]. However, another study suggested that financial incentives will only provide a short term positive behavior. Staffs do look for more incentives which are non-monetary in order to sustain a long term positive performance in organizations [4]. Bouxsein, Roane and Harper [28] reported that the combination of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement is most effective in modifying behaviors. Additionally, managers should consider different factors such race, age, gender, education level, and ethnicity when implementing these reinforcements. This is because it will help to identify which type of rewards to strengthen desired behavior. Types of rewards should be taken into account for different nature of organizations such as manufacturing, hospitality, education or retailing. These factors would help further clarify the types and intensity of reinforcement which should be used.

Reinforcement theory is an instrument used by managers to increase or decrease employees’ behaviors. As performance and effectiveness are more emphasized nowadays, it is important to understand and utilize these concepts in motivating staffs. Positive reinforcement is seen to be the most effective way of motivating staffs to perform better in organizations. Employees are encouraged to do better as they know when each desired behavior is shown, they will be rewarded. The rewards can be intrinsic or extrinsic, or a combination of both. Rewards can be bonus based on performance, additional benefits, verbal encouragement, and empowerment. Employees feel satisfied when their work is recognized and their hard work is paid off. Punishment is another technique applied to reduce or remove certain behavior. Those who are given penalty show better discipline. However, punishment is often not favoured as it may bring down some of them. Managers should be able to decide strategically which method to use when it comes to eliciting or removing a behavior. A consequence-based technique is very effective in managing an individual or even a team of staffs.

Behaviorist Learning Theory in the Classroom

In the behaviorist learning theory, the idea is to create specific behaviors through rewards for wanted behaviors and consequences for unwanted behaviors. When it is applied to a classroom setting, it becomes a method of operant conditioning. It is used to not to help children understand the benefits of following the rules through a logical debate, but through the use of positive and negative reinforcement.

With the behaviorist learning theory in the classroom, there are four basic types of reinforcement that can be used.

  • Positive Reinforcement. This is an immediate reinforcement of a wanted behavior when it is observed. Giving a student verbal praise for a wanted behavior is a common form of positive reinforcement that teachers offer to students.
  • Negative Reinforcement. Instead of offering a student a compliment, this type of reinforcement tells a student that their behavior is not wanted. The goal isn’t to embarrass the student, but to offer an alternative behavior that could bring about a desired reward.
  • Presentation Punishment. This option is often used as a form of showing an entire class what will create a negative reinforcement response. If Johnny keeps yelling during story time, a teacher might bring the student up to the front of the class and then tell Johnny that his behavior is inappropriate at that moment. The goal here is to embarrass the student, but to also encourage other students not to be embarrassed by not replicating Johnny’s behavior.
  • Removal Reinforcement. This may be used by removing a disruptive student with negative behaviors from the classroom. It may also be used through a period of negotiation so that a teacher gets what they want, but a student can also have something that they want.

Each reinforcement opportunity has specific benefits and disadvantages that must be considered before it is implemented in a classroom setting.

Pros and Cons of Positive Reinforcement

It offers an immediate reinforcement of a wanted behavior. Specific statements of praise help to reinforce the compliment being offered. Specific actions, such as “clipping up” or “earning a star,” can also be included to initiate rewards.

Some students aren’t motivated by rewards. They don’t care about the classroom setting and will not respond to the positive reinforcement opportunities.

Pros and Cons of Negative Reinforcement

It creates an immediate “consequence” for an unwanted behavior. Some students may hear this consequence and not want to have it themselves, which will modify their behavior. It can create immediate change within a student who is motivated by rewards.

Some students are not motivated by a negative reinforcement either. “Who cares what you think?” Their behaviors are more about their individual needs and those needs don’t involve the classroom setting.

Pros and Cons of Presentation Punishment

It impacts the entire classroom. You’re able to modify the behavior of a large group by using an unwanted behavior from one individual. It can address a specific and potentially dangerous unwanted behavior immediately.

It causes the student being used as a presentation to be targeted by other students. They may make fun of that student or not want to be associated with them. Some students are sensitive and may resent being used as an example toward other students, which increases the number and the aggressiveness of their unwanted individuals.

Pros and Cons of Removal Reinforcement

It is a way to meet the needs of a specific student without disrupting the entire class. It may remove an unwanted behavior from the classroom immediately. Removal minimizes impact while allowing learning progression. It takes away something that a student sees as “good,” which encourages them to “earn it back” with wanted behaviors.

It may encourage a student to continue offering unwanted behaviors so they can get their way. They learn that there is a direct connection between behaving “badly” and getting what they want. It may cause other students in the classroom setting to behave in the same way so they can receive “special treatment” as well.

Which Option Is Right for Teachers Today?

Teachers should be using all of these options when appropriate to address wanted and unwanted behaviors in the classroom. The goal should always be to avoid an unpleasant consequence, but sometimes a punishment is necessary to remove an unwanted behavior. Teachers should never belittle a student. They should always be looking for a way to generate a positive outcome.

And behaviorist learning theory in the classroom works best when an individualized approach is taken. A group consequence creates resentment in students who weren’t involved. Group rewards only reinforce unwanted behaviors in those who weren’t meeting expectations. By finding the middle ground, the classroom can really become a good learning environment.

ABASW - Thursday

-occur in natural context
-does not require disruption of daily routines
-more objective/accurate than interviews
-allows development of hypothesis about function
-could lead to development of intervention

(done by a trained professional)
(this is experimental)

-play/environmental enrichment (EE)
-contingent attention
-contingent escape
-contingent access to tangibles

-experimental = functional relationships can be demonstrated

who? (self-motinoring, or tutor(s)?)

when and where? (structured/contrived (setting the situation to make a behavior occur more frequently) or unstructured settings(natural observations))


-measures the number of times a behavior occurs in a specified period of time

-the total amount of time spent engaging in the target behavior from onset to offset

real-time recording (SEE TEXT) measures both frequency and duration

- amount of force, energy, exertion involved in target behavior
-measures on rating scale or measurement instrument (decible meter)

-the amount of time that elapses between a specific stimulus event and onset of the target behavior

percentage of opportunities
-number of time behavior occurred/number of opportunities for it to occur

-exact measurement

whole interval recording
-score whether behavior occurred for ENTIRE interval

partial interval recording
-score whether behavior occurred at ANY TIME during that interval

0may take less time than continuous recording

-may take less time than continuous recording

-observer does not have to be present while behavior is occurring
-frequently less time consuming than other methods

multiple baseline across behaviors
-baseline and treatment phase for 2+ behaviors for same subject

multiple baseline across settings
-baseline and treatment phase in 2+ settings for same subject and target behavior

skinner and operant conditioning
-animal research, level press response

-acces to preferred activity

-consistently occurs following target behavior
-does not occur in absence of target behavior

-how much of the reinforcer is delivered?

-a reinforcer for one person might be a punisher for the next

-environmental conditions that momentarily alter the effect of a stimulus as a reinforcer/punisher (makes the reinforcer more or less preferred)

two types of MOs
-establishing operation (EOs)
--increase the effectiveness of some stimulus object or event as a reinforcer (or punisher)
--example: deprivation

both are operant
-control response frequency because of their relation to reinforceing and punshing consequences

SD's: control behavior because they have been related to the differential availability of an effective reinforcer
-reinforcer is unavailable in the SDs absence

stimulus preference assessments
-identify preferred stimuli

reinforcer assessemnts
-identify stimuli that function as reinforcers

free operant observation

trial-based methods
-single stimulus
--stimulus is presented and reaction noted
-paired stimuli
--forced choice
-multiple stimuli
--multiple stimuli with or without replacement

continuous reinforcement schedule
-every occurrence of target response is reinforced

intermittent reinforcement schedule
-target response is reinforced occasionally or intermittently

fixed ratio (FR)
-a specific or fixed number of responses must occur before the reinforcer is delivered
-produces high rate of behavior
-pause after reinforcement

variable ratio (VR)
-an average/variable number of responses must occur before reinforcement is delivered
-produces high and steady rate of behaviour
-no pause after reinforcement

fixed interval (FI)
-a fixed or specific amout of time must pass before reinforcer is delivered
-produces a low rate of behavior
-on and off pattern, with increase near end of interval

variable interval (VI)
-interval length differs
-intervals vary around an average length
-produces steady, low-to-moderate rate of behavior
-no on and off pattern

differential reinforcement is a highly effective group of procedures
-reduced problematic behavior
-increased appropriate behavior

using extinction and punishment may also be effective in reducing problem behavior but
-these procedures may result in undesirable side effects
-neither procedure strengthens or teaches adaptive behavior(s)

-reinforcement contingent on demonstration of appropriate alternative behavior
use when:
-increase the rate of appropriate behavior
-alternative behavior already occurs at least occasionally
-you have access to a reinforcer which can be delivered after the occurrence of appropriate behavior
-you can eliinate or minimize reinforcement for the undesirable behavior

-reinforcement contingent on absence of target behavior for a specific period of time
used when:
-initial interval length should be tied to baseline rate of target behavior
-initial interval length should result in a high probability of reinforcement
-deliver reinforcement at end of interal if target response in absent throughout interval
-eliminate/minimize reinforcement for target behavior
-systematically increase interval length as student meets criterion

Research looked at inconsistency of consequence-based intervention
-this may be related to antecedent variables

both are operant
-control response frequency because of their relation to reinforceing and punshing consequences

SD's: control behavior because they have been related to the differential availability of an effective reinforcer
-reinforcer is unavailable in the SDs absence
-interventions involving SD's must include the manipulation of consequent events

-to decrease undesirable behavior maintained by access to attention=schedule attention
-to decrease undesirable behavior maintained by escape from demands=schedule breaks
-to decrease undesirable behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement=free access to preferred leisure items

-initial time value based on number of occurrences of problem behaviors (ensure dense schedule of alternative reinforcement)
-thin schedule of reinforcement systematically
-set terminal criterion (varies from student to student, research has not yet established an idael terminal criterion)

three key elements enhance the effectiveness of NCR
-amount and quality of reinforcing stimuli
-changing reinforcer preferences
-extinction for undesirable behavior

-easier than other positive reductive techniques (do not need to monitor student behavior)
-helps create a positive learning environment
-packaging NCR with extinction may help reduce extinction-induced response bursts
-chance pairings of appropriate behavior and NCR delivery could strengthen desirable behaviors

-provides a nonaversive procedure for improving compliance by decreasing excape-maintained behaviors
-may also decrease excessive slowness in responding to requests

-select responses that regularly occur with compliance and are brief in duration
-present requests rapidly
-acknowledge compliance briefly
-use additional reinforcers when necessary

-is a form of differential reinforcement of alternative (DRA) because
--the intervention develops tand reinforces an alternatie communicative response
--to diminish problem behavior
-the alternative response produces the reinforcer that previously maintained the problem behavior (functionally equivalent)

-dense schedule of reinforcement when starting
-thin schedule of reinforcement when target response is firmly established
-decrease use of verbal prompts over time
-effectiveness enhances if treatment package includes extinction for problem behavior

-excellent probability of generalization and maintenance
-high social validity (participants often report preference for FCT over others)
-FCT sometimes does not require extinction of the problematic behavior

-shaping is used to develop a target behavior that a person doe snot yet exhibit

-may require many successive approximations prior to terminal behavior
--depends on 1) complexity of target behavior and 2) learners prerequisite skills

-achievement of terminal behavior seldom predictable, immediate or linear
--if instructor fails to notice and reinforce closer approximation, progress will be delayed

-shaping may not be the most appropriate prodecure if 1) the individual already engages in the terminal behavior even occasionally or 2) you can tell or show the person how to demonstrate the correct behavior

-topography (high of jump)
-frequency (amount of vegitable servings)
-duration (amount of time running)
-latency (starting race faster after pistol)
-intensity (responding louder during attendance)

-define the terminal behavior
-identify an existing behaviour that is an approximation of the terminal behaviour
-identify potential reinforcers
-describe shaping steps

-reinforce the starting behavior until it beings to occur more often
-stop reinforcing the starting behavior
--during extinction burst, novel behaviors tyically begin to appear
-select and reinforce a novel behavior that is a closer approximation to the terminal behavior
-no longer reinforce the starting behavior

*differential reinforcement has two effects:
-responses similiar to those that have been reinforced occur with more frequency
-responses resembling the unreinforced behaviors are emitted less frequently

-gradually changing criterion for reinforcement during shaping
--results in a series of new response calles
--each one is closer to the terminal behavior than the response class it replaces

this is achieved when the dimension of the target behavior reaches a predetermined criterion level
-be sure to schedule sufficient reinforcement to maintain the terminal behavior

the efficiency of shaping may be improved by including
-a discriminative stimulus or vocal prompting
-physical guidance
-imitative prompts

-positive approach to behavior change
--punishment procedures not typically included
-can be combined with other behavior building techniques (chaining)

-typically prompts are delivered together with the Sd
-prompts make teaching more efficient
-but. the goal is to eventually fade them

-response prompts
--the behavior of another person evoks desired response in presence of Sd
-stimulus prompts
--a change in a stimulus, or the addition/removal of a stimulus makes correct response more likely

-verbal prompts
--instructors says something to help student engage in correct behavior
--echoic prompt: instructor says something to help student engage in correct behavior student is expected to repeat the words

-gestural prompts
--a physical movement or gesture that leads to the correct behavior in the presence of the Sd

-modeling prompts
--a demonstration of the correct behavior

-physical prompts
--another person physically helps the person to engage in the correct behavior

-within-stimulus prompts
--change the salience (noticeable) of an Sd

-extra-stimulus prompts
--adding a stimulus to help student make correct discrimination (textual prompts, visual schedules, matching before a point-to response, manipulaties for math equations)

-prompting is normally provided only during the acquisition phase of instruction
-transferring stimulus control
--eliminating prompts so target behavior occurs in presence of Sd alone
-how does this occur? (prompt fading, prompt delay, stimulus fading)

-prompt is gradually removed across learning trials until no longer provided
-most commonly used method of transferring stimulus control

most-to-least: most instrucive prompt used first
-faded to less instrucive prompts until prompting is no longer required
-may be used when more invasive prompt types are necessary

least-to-most prompting and fading
-least intrusive prompt used first
-more instructive prompts used as necessary
-may be used when student may not need more instructive prompts types

-instructor issues Sd and waits a specific number of seconds to provide prompt
-time delay between Sd and presentation of prompt may be constant (2 seconds) or progressive (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s)

-in a behavior chain, each discrete response is associated with a particular stimulus condition
-each discrete response then produces a stimulus change that either 1) serves as a conditioned reinforcer for a response or 2) serve as a discriminative stimulus (Sd) for the next response in the chain

a task analysis is the process of breaking a beahvior chain or complex skill down into its discrete stimulus/response components

identify all behaviors necessary to perform the target task
-observation of competent person
-as an expert
-perform task yourself

-it may be necessary to break each discrete response down into further steps
-it may be possible to combine behaviors together into a single step

-single opportunity
--once an error occurs, the rest of the chian is scored as incorrect
--more conservative, less informative but faster than multiple opportunity

-multiple opportunity
--all discrete responses are assessed. if an error occurs during the chain, that step is prompted and the individual has the opportunity to perform the nest step independently
--more information but more time consuming than single opportunity
--teaching should not be included in assessment

-backward chaining
--prompting and fading used to teach last behavior in the chain first
--when final response i mastered, second-to-last behavior is taught

-forward chaining
--prompting and fading used to teach first behavior in the chain first
--when first response is mastered, second behavior is taught and so on

-total task presentation
--complex chain of behaviors is taught as a single unit
--prompting is provided and faded as learner masters each discrete step (no particular order)

-extinction as a procedure provides zero probability of reinforcement
--effectiveness depends on identification of reinforcing consequences and consistent application of procedure
--may be difficult in practice

-does not always ignoring the target behaviour!

-extinction of behavior maintained by positive reinforcement
-extinction of behavior maintained by negative reinforcement
-extinction of behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement

-when a behavior is no longer reinforced , the behavior temporarily increases in frequency, duration, or intensity before it decreases
-novel responses may also occur
-important to anticipate a possible increase during extinction
--extinction bursts usually suggest reinforcers maintaining problem behavior were correctly identified

refers to the reappearance of a behavior after it was decreased through extinction
-reoccurs even through response does not result in reinforcement
-ABA have not yet conducted comprehensive research on this phenomenon

-withhold all reinforcers maintaining the problem behavior
-ensure all possible sources of reinforcement are identified

-withhold reinforcement consistently
-behaviors reinforced intermittently are likely to become more resistant to extinction

-combine extinction with other procedures
--effectiveness may increase with positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors
--differential reinforcement and antecedent procedures may help attenuate undesirable effects of extinction
--ethically important to teach appropriate replacement behaviors whenever possible

-use instructions: explain the procedure to students
-increase number of extinction trails
-include significant others in intervention
-guard against unintentional extinction

Reinforcement vs. Punishment: How to Change Behavior

Being a parent has been known as the best thing ever BUT also the most challenging endeavor you will encounter in your lifetime. Parents strive to raise a healthy and happy child that will one day grow up as a full-fledged mature and independent adult. But to successfully accomplish this goal, a parent must set forth structure or rules throughout their childhood to help them understand and be realigned when their behavior needs to be modified. When a parent recognizes the need to change a behavior, they will likely end up using either reinforcement, punishment, or a mixture of both. When we’re helping to decrease the frequency of a child’s negative behavior, having the reinforcement or punishment methods in our toolkit can help you modify and implement the desired behavior.

How does Reinforcement help with changing behavior?

There are two basic kinds of reinforcement, positive and negative reinforcement. Both can be useful if applied correctly to shape a child’s behavior and to help teach them the correct skills to use in the future. To name just a few, reinforcement can be used to teach and implement communication, social, self-help and table manner skills.

Positive Reinforcement: When a parent uses positive reinforcement, what they are essentially doing is providing something, known as an object or stimulus, that will increase the chances of a certain desired behavior to happen again in the future. For example, you might reward polite behavior with access to the child’s favorite toy or by giving them a sticker to place on their token board. Praise can also help a child feel good about doing something right which makes them want to repeat that action. Please note that each child’s interests are different, so you’ll need to tailor the positive reinforcement accordingly by identifying what motivates them.

Negative Reinforcement: With negative reinforcement, you increase a certain behavior by the removal of a certain stimulus/object. For example, let’s assume that a parent is attempting to establish the picture exchange communication system (PECS) and wants to use negative reinforcement to do so. If the child does not like a certain fruit, they may learn that holding up the PECS ‘No’ card results in the disliked fruit being taken away. In this example the behavior being reinforced is the use of the PECS ‘No’ card and the negative reinforcement is the removal of the disliked fruit.

The role of Punishment in making behavioral changes.

Punishment does not need be extreme. It is simply a stimulus that is used to discourage or decrease an undesirable behavior. Although punishment does not replace the negative behavior like reinforcement does, it is still a resourceful technique.

Positive Punishment: While this may sound odd, it is actually what most of us are familiar with. It is the introduction of a stimulus/object which will decrease the chances of a specific undesirable behavior from happening again in the future. For example, the verbal warning you received as a child for misbehaving in class, or for doing something inappropriate was the stimulus that discouraged your unwanted behavior.

Negative Punishment: When using negative punishment, the parent or teacher must remove a certain stimulus to lower the chances of an unwanted behavior from happening again. For instance, a child may find that their favorite toy is taken away from them if they are messy or do not clear up after themselves. This then lowers the chances of the child cluttering up their room or doing a messy job with their work in the future and can be attributed to negative punishment.

It is important to always teach a replacement behavior that serves the same function as the unwanted behavior you are trying to decrease. Since reinforcement focuses on increasing a desired behavior and punishment focuses on reducing an unwanted behavior but does not teach a replacement for it, it is typically recommended to use positive reinforcement when trying to make a behavior change. Yet, whether you choose to use punishment or reinforcement, the key to successfully using these approaches, is to remain consistent. Remain hopeful even when you don’t see results right away it will take time, patience, kindness, love and understanding. Yet when the desired behavior starts to occur again, it will help you believe in the whole process, so stick with it and know that you’re not alone in this journey.

The Boss

Okay, you may not be a boss, but everyone will have times in their life where they need to get people organized and working together to get the best result. Often, leaders say things like this to me:

  • &ldquoI&rsquove told them until I&rsquom blue in the face not to do that!&rdquo
  • &ldquoThey constantly refuse to use the new system.&rdquo
  • &ldquoThey just don&rsquot listen.&rdquo
  • &ldquoThey don&rsquot respect me.&rdquo

What Did the Boss Try?

Often, I hear &ldquoWe&rsquove tried everything!&rdquo No matter who is reading this, trust me, you&rsquove not tried everything. (That&rsquos the first thing to accept.) When you accept that, you then need to look at what you have tried to move forward.

  • Giving the person training.
  • Spending time with them and showing them how to do it.
  • Telling them it wasn&rsquot good enough.
  • Telling them we aren&rsquot doing that any more.

Now What?

The above situations create tension between the two as you constantly battle to maintain your position on the situation. If you are looking to get someone to do something, and they constantly resist, you need to stop and ask yourself some questions:

  1. What have we tried? This helps you to understand what they are good at, so you can utilize that in the conversation.
  2. From their viewpoint, what could prevent them from doing what I&rsquove asked? What could they fear, and how will we allay those fears?
  3. What do they want? Seeing their viewpoint enables you to use their terminology and language so they feel listened to.
  4. What do they believe? Do their beliefs prevent them from seeing the benefits? Beliefs can be changed but not by force&mdashcoaching is very powerful for this.
  5. How do these answers differ from my beliefs and views? Bridging the gap helps you to see both views and communicate more powerfully.

In my experience, rarely does a boss or leader need to say the word &ldquoNo.&rdquo If someone is not doing what you want them to, the quickest way to see results is to ask questions and listen. Often, when you really listen, you discover a big gap between what you think you are saying and what the other person is hearing.

The reasons why someone is not doing what you want can include:

  • They don&rsquot know how to do what you&rsquove asked them to do.
  • They are scared to get it wrong.
  • They fear what people will think of them.
  • They don&rsquot have the confidence to come and tell you they need help.
  • They are scared that someone will tell them off.
  • They don&rsquot understand where the boundaries are.

People tell me, &ldquoBut I said that to them!&rdquo If you are too close to the situation, then how likely are they to take notice from you? Here&rsquos what you can do:

  • Get out of your usual environment &ndash Neutral environments make difficult conversations easier. They can take you both off your guard, which can be good.
  • Start by making that person feel safe to say anything. Start with ground rules like &ldquoThis is a confidential conversation&rdquo and &ldquoI won&rsquot make any judgement on what you say, I just want to understand.&rdquo
  • Be prepared to say &ldquoI&rsquom sorry&rdquo or &ldquoI didn&rsquot realize.&rdquo When you do this, positive and negative reinforcement can be used.

Learning how to coach people instead of tell people is key. Enabling the other person to see the benefits of what you want for them (and not you) is quicker than trying to dictate action.

  • Lay out expected outcomes.
  • Create boundaries.
  • Explain what support and help you will provide.

The Results

This style of reinforcement is about utilizing both positive and negative reinforcement. It enables someone to feel safe to explain why they&rsquove not been taking action and helps them to overcome the limitations they feel while safe in the knowledge that they will get the support to change with the positive results explained in a way that matters to them.

What is negative reinforcement?

Negative reinforcement encourages specific behaviors by removing or avoiding negative consequences or stimuli. It is different than punishment, which aims to discourage a specific behavior.

Negative reinforcement has become a popular way of encouraging good behavior at school. Keep reading to learn more about how it works and how it differs from positive reinforcement and punishment.

Share on Pinterest People can use negative reinforcement to encourage a particular behavior.

Negative reinforcement is the encouragement of certain behaviors by removing or avoiding a negative outcome or stimuli. People typically use this technique to help children learn good patterns of behavior, but it can also play a role in training animals and pets.

Negative reinforcement is part of operant conditioning, which was a theory of learning that B. F. Skinner developed in the 1930s.

Operant conditioning centers on the idea of reinforcement. Reinforcing behaviors makes them more likely to occur again. Behaviors without reinforcement, according to operant conditioning, will not reoccur.

Negative reinforcement allows the person or animal to remove the negative stimuli in exchange for a reward.

Skinner demonstrated his operant conditioning theory by observing animals in what researchers came to call a Skinner box. The box may, for example, contain a lever or button that an animal can press for food or water. However, if the animal tries to get the food by simply pushing the button, it will receive a small but uncomfortable electric shock.

Instead, the animal may need to press a second lever to stop the electric current and allow it to get the food without the electric shock. Over time, the animal will learn to stop the current immediately using the lever.

The same idea can apply in everyday life. For example, if an alarm sounds when a person starts driving without putting their seat belt on, they will quickly learn to put their seat belt on when they get in the car to avoid the unpleasant alarm sound.

It is easy to mistake negative reinforcement for a type of punishment, but there is a fundamental difference between the two. In a sense, they are, in fact, opposites. People design punishments to discourage a particular behavior or type of behavior, but they use negative reinforcement to encourage it.

A punishment could involve removing a reward or applying an unpleasant stimulus. For example, giving an animal a mild electric shock for pressing a lever would discourage this behavior. An example in humans could be grounding a child for breaking a rule.

It is unclear whether negative reinforcements or punishments are more effective in changing behavior patterns. However, some criticisms of using punishments include:

  • Certain behaviors may return when the punishment no longer occurs.
  • Punishments can create anger and other negative feelings, potentially leading to worse problems.
  • A fear of punishment could develop into a fear of other situations relating to the punishment, such as a fear of going to school if that is where punishment occurs.
  • Punishments focus on stopping behaviors rather than teaching good behaviors in their place.

Deciding whether to use punishments or negative reinforcement will depend on the desired change in behavior and the child. For example, using harsh punishments on a child who is prone to anger may worsen the existing issues.

Positive reinforcement involves the use of pleasant stimuli to encourage certain behaviors. It is the opposite face of reinforcement within operant conditioning because it encourages behaviors through reward rather than the removal of something unpleasant.

For example, a researcher may set up a Skinner box so that pressing a lever provides the animal with food. At first, the animal may touch the lever accidentally. But over time, it will learn that there will be a reward for pressing the lever.

An example in children would be giving them money for doing chores around the house.

Some children may respond better to positive reinforcement, whereas others will respond better to negative reinforcement. It is possible to use both forms of reinforcement to influence behavior.

People have long applied operant conditioning to help children and teenagers learn in school. The theory is appealing because it is a simple and effective method of encouraging changes in behavior.

Reinforcement is most effective as a consequence of a behavior. For example, getting a low grade on an exam is a negative reinforcer that encourages pupils to study.

The reinforcement must also be appealing to the pupil. Some children might not care about getting low grades, so they may continue to avoid studying.

It is important to work with pupils to understand what motivates them as individuals before deciding on the best approach for reinforcement. Often, different factors will motivate each pupil. It can, therefore, be helpful to use multiple reward and reinforcement systems. The best methods, or schedules of reinforcement, might also differ depending on the situation.

Continuous reinforcement is useful for teaching a new behavior. It involves using the reinforcer every time a pupil displays the behavior. Once pupils have formed a strong association between the reinforcer and the behavior, it can become less frequent.

Other approaches include fixed interval schedules, where the reinforcer occurs after a certain number of repetitions of the behavior.

Variable interval schedules are particularly useful for reinforcing slow, continual behaviors, for example, teaching children to remain in their seats or talk quietly in the hallway.

Negative reinforcement aims to increase specific behaviors by removing negative consequences or stimuli.

It is part of the operant conditioning theory of learning. This theory also includes positive reinforcement, which increases behaviors through rewards.

Punishments are different because they involve either removing a reward or using an unpleasant outcome to discourage behaviors.

Negative reinforcement can help encourage good behavior in children and teenagers at school, but its effectiveness will depend on the individual.


  • When people hear that punishment procedures are being used, they typically think of an aversive or harmful consequence. This is not always the case as you can see below.
  • Punishment is a process by which a consequence immediately follows a behavior which decreases the future frequency of that behavior. Like reinforcement, a stimulus can be added (positive punishment) or removed (negative punishment).
  • There are two types of punishment: positive and negative, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Below are some examples to help clear up the confusion.

How to Discipline Kids With Positive and Negative Consequences

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC.

Jamie Grill / The Image Bank / Getty Images

When most parents think about consequences for kids, they usually envision negative consequences, like a time-out or taking away a video game. While negative consequences are instrumental in changing a child's behavior, positive consequences are also effective discipline tools.

When used together, positive and negative consequences will change your child's behavior   —as long as they are used consistently. Use positive consequences to reinforce good behavior and enforce negative consequences to discourage bad behavior.

Watch the video: PSYC 315- The Effects of Positive Reinforcement and Negative Reinforcement on Children (August 2022).