Saturday, January 19, 2008

Effect of Positive and Negative Reinforcement on Behaviour

By Sudipa Sarkar
Explain the effect that positive and negative reinforcement has on behaviour. Give an example of negative and positive reinforcement for the behaviour of completing one's homework. Address the difference between negative reinforcement and punishment.

Effect of Positive and Negative Reinforcement on Behaviour

Positive reinforcement is responsible for changing the surroundings by adding a stimulus which enhances the likelihood of the occurrence of the behaviour. On the other hand, negative reinforcement is responsible for changing the surrounding by eliminating the aversive stimulus increasing the likelihood of occurrence of the behaviour.

Example

Completion of Homework is highly influenced by positive reinforcement. Here is an example of an 8 years of old little boy, who is just unable to finish his homework everyday and on time. Moreover he was very clumsy and not neat while composing his assignments. His parents with the collaboration with his teacher initially set the time limits of working with homework as well as divide the homework into manageable chunks. Also they induce realistic goals with appropriate rewards (positive reinforcement) and penalty (negative reinforcement). The reward part associates offering attention and praise upon hard work and productivity, and the penalty include not allowed playing till the task is finished on time. This activity eventually increases the likelihood of the desired behaviour, the boy starts doing better than before.

Difference between Negative Reinforcement and Punishment

Negative reinforcement and punishment is not the same thing. In case of punishment, when applied, it adds such an aversive stimulus in the surrounding that reduces the likelihood of occurrence of a particular behaviour. On the other hand, negative reinforcement removes aversive stimulus from the environment so that the likelihood of the behaviour is increased. In that sense, negative reinforcement strengthens behaviours to avoid or escape from an aversive event whereas in process of punishment an aversive event deteriorates the likelihood of the behaviour it follows, as a result, they learn to suppress response that lead to unpleasant consequences.
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