Q:

What is the difference between reinforcement and punishment?

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Quick Answer

Reinforcement encourages behavior while punishment discourages it. Both develop learning through what is called operant conditioning, in which behaviors increase or decrease based on the type of result obtained.

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Full Answer

Edward Thorndike was a psychologist who first studied operant conditioning, which describes the learning that is based on the consequences of the learner. His work influenced that of B.F. Skinner, a behavioral psychologist who developed the terms reinforcement and punishment in terms of operant conditioning. Skinner's work showed that punishments tend to decrease the likelihood of specific behaviors while reinforcements tend to increase the likelihood of specific behaviors.

Both terms can be described in positive and negative terms. Positive reinforcement offers something desirable to increase positive behaviors, while negative reinforcement removes something undesirable to increase positive behaviors. Positive punishment offers something undesirable to reduce negative behaviors, while negative punishment removes something desirable to reduce negative behaviors.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a variable interval schedule?

    A:

    A variable interval schedule is a principle in operant conditioning where the reinforcement for a certain behavior comes at random times, or variable intervals. This is an example of intermittent reinforcement, which occurs when only some instances of a certain behavior are rewarded (and not all of them).

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  • Q:

    What are examples of vicarious reinforcement?

    A:

    An example of vicarious reinforcement is when a toddler learns to use the bathroom on his own because he saw his older siblings do the same and get rewarded for it. Another example is when a child eats all of her dinner in order to receive dessert because she has watched her older sister eat the entire meal and earn dessert.

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  • Q:

    What are some examples of cognitive perspective?

    A:

    Some examples of cognitive perspective are positive and negative reinforcement and self-actualization. Cognitive perspective, also known as cognitive psychology, focuses on learning-based aspects of behavior.

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  • Q:

    What is an example of continuous reinforcement?

    A:

    An example of continuous reinforcement is to put children in timeout every time they misbehave. Continuous reinforcement is simply a continuation of the same response to misbehavior every time it occurs.

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