Reinforcement can be defined as anything that increases the possibility that a response will occur. It will always either strengthen or increase a behavior. Reinforcement can further be broken down into two categories of positive and negative. In this context, it is important to indicate that positive and negative refer to addition and subtraction rather than good and bad, which many people mistake it for. In positive reinforcement, a reward (positive reinforcer) is given to increase a behavior. For example, while working at American Apparel every time every time I make a sale at work I’m rewarded with the same item I sold but for free. Therefore, I would most likely try to increase my sales so that I could receive free product. The positive reinforcer in this context is free product given. The behavior that would be increasing is my amount of sales.
Negative reinforcement can be reviewed the same way. Although both lead to strengthening a behavior, negative reinforcement does so by removing a negative stimuli, which could be anything that is unwanted. For example, my manager will cover all of the cleaning tasks if we sold at least one two hundred dollars of merchandise every day of the week. Therefore, all the workers would strive to sell at least two hundred dollars a day so that we would not have to care of any custodial tasks. In this example, the negative stimuli would be taking away the unwanted chores while the...
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...ng. For this example, we can use a rainy day. Therefore, the unconditioned stimulus of making sales is then paired with the neutral stimulus of a rainy day. Now every time it rains you expect to make a lot of sales since a rainy day is now associated with making sales. Making sales becomes a conditioned response when it is raining.
Although classical and operant conditioning features different ways of training, they both play a huge role in how we learn. In classical conditioning we learn through association while in operant conditioning we learn through consequence. Reinforcement and punishment can be observed in the same way. Reinforcers work to increase behavior while punishment works to decrease it. Either way we are still learning through observation. When breaking down each of these concepts we can then even apply these techniques to modify our daily lives.
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