Schedules of Reinforcement

Schedules of reinforcement play a crucial role in operant conditioning. According to research, schedules of reinforcement entail the boosting of the probability of a certain behavior. Schedules of reinforcement take the form of “response” and these follow delivery of a stimulus. Thus, it can be indicated that reinforcement plays the role of a stimulus when a certain behavior occurs. There are different types of schedules of reinforcement, and they include primary reinforcers, positive and negative reinforcement, and secondary reinforcement. Notably, schedules of reinforcement contribute greatly in operant conditioning as they influence the learning process. It also significant to note that the currency by which a certain behavior is reinforced determines  the rate and the strength of response. Thus, schedules of reinforcement play several roles in operant conditioning depending on the type of reinforcement that is occurring.

This paper discusses various ways that schedules of reinforcement facilitate operant conditioning.

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Firstly, schedules of reinforcement have significance in operant conditioning as they advance positive and negative conditioning. Blackman (2001) observes that positive reinforcement results to acquiring of behavior that lasts. In reference to Skinner’s theory, positive reinforcement differs a great deal from punishment because punishment has many side effects and results to a temporary acquisition of behavior. Notably, in this case, reinforcement is essential in operant conditioning because it makes a person acquire behavior that a person cherishes unlike punishment, which is sort of forced acquisition of behavior. However, it should be noted that various operant conditioning are involved in positive and negative reinforcement. There is positive reinforcement, that has been outlined above, which promotes the acquisition of a certain behavior.

Secondly, schedules of reinforcement have usefulness in operant conditioning as they provide positive punishment, which can be described as the provision of a stimulus that is aversive in nature. The purpose of this stimuli is to decrease a certain response or behavior.

Harris (2005) indicates that this takes the form of reproach. An example is provided whereby a child is involved in an unbecoming behavior. Notably, the behavior that the child is involved in can result to an accident or certain consequence. In order to prevent such occurrences, an adult yells at the child, to stop performing what one is doing. Kalat (2010) asserts that if the child stops performing what he is doing as advised or because he has being yelled at, that reflects positive punishment. Thus, the yelling at a child in order to stop that behavior is what is considered as the positive conditioning, which stops involvement in the given behavior.

Thirdly, schedules of reinforcement have usefulness in operant conditioning through the advancement of negative reinforcement. Plotnik and Kouyoumdjian (2010) convey that this is significant in operant conditioning as it entails the elimination of a stimulus aversive in nature for purposes of adding a certain behavior. In this case, the usefulness of schedules of reinforcement is viewed in accordance to the elimination of the aversive stimulus with the purpose of increasing a certain behavior. Notably, without eliminating the aversive stimulus, the behavior cannot be added because the aversive stimulus acts as an inhibitor. For instance, a person studying for his exams might want to avoid distractions in order to utilize utterly his study time. Thus, the individual turns off television so that it does not distract him. When the person’s concentration and output increases because of turning of the television, this is what is referred to as negative reinforcement. Arguably, it is useful in operant conditioning because it promotes concentration and output of the desired behavior.

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Stolerman (2010) also notes that schedules of reinforcement have significance in operant conditioning through negative punishment. According to (Stolerman, 2010), this promotes the acquisition of behavior through a process involving retrieving of a stimulus that is appetitive. Without retrieving the appetitive stimulus, operant conditioning will not have the desired effects; thus, indicates the validity or necessity of the schedule of reinforcement. A vital example in this case is where a teenager does not follow his parents instructions through violating of the curfew. Consequently, the parents take the car keys in order to make the teenager observe his curfew.  Weiten (2010) notes that the usefulness of schedule of reinforcement is observed if the teen observes his curfew by going home on time. The parents taking away the car keys is deemed as negative punishment, and it is given credence by the appetitive stimulus.

Thus, it can be indicated from the above operant conditioning, and the different types fo stimulus identified that schedules of reinforcement are instrumental in shaping of behaviors. The schedules of reinforcement can make behavior be predictable, and this links with appetitive stimulus, which contributes to negative punishment in operant conditioning.

The schedules of reinforcement also have the usefulness of determining how the response to operant conditioning are maintained. Kalat (2010) projects that schedules of reinforcement do this role through appetitive stimuli, which ensures that undesired behavior is eliminated. In the case provided above, a teenager’s behavior deemed unbecoming can be corrected through operant conditioning that requires appetitive stimuli. This operant conditioning christened negative punishment makes a teenager to adapt behavior that is cherished by the guardians. Notably, the teenager has to maintain the desired behavior in order for parents to allow him, to possess the keys of the car.

 It has also been observed by Stolerman (2010) that, in some cases, schedules of response induce promote the increase of a certain response. This is exepmplified in a fixed interval type of reinforcement that ensures the response to an activity escalates when the deadline nears. Thus, the operant conditioning in this case is given validity by the fixed interval schedule. Plotnik & Kouyoumdjian (2010) note that schedules of reinforcement also provide alternative means of stimuli to operant conditioning. This is given validity by concurrent schedules that are available simultaneously to a subject. Thus, in this case, the subject has the option of responding to either stimuli. Alternatively, the schedules of reinforcement have benefits in operant conditioning as they enable the subject to respond to one stimuli, and then the other follows.

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In conclusion, schedules of reinforcement refer to the boosting of the probability of certain responses. Thus, they play a crucial role with regards to operant conditioning as they facilitate the four types of operant conditioning. The four types of operant conditioning include positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. In these four types of operant conditioning, the schedules of reinforcement specifically promote the acquisition of certain responses or maintenance of the projected responses. For instance, in positive punishment, when a parent yells at a child, to stop an unbecoming behavior such as running to on the road, there is provision of an aversive stimuli, which is achieved when the child responds to the yell by walking. In regards to maintenance of a certain response, negative punishment can be used to explicate it whereby a teenager does not observe his curfew. The parents withdraw his car keys until the teenager depicts the desired response for a given period, and that is when he is allowed to drive again. Notably, the usefulness of schedules of response in operant conditioning is provision of reinforcement to certain behaviors or responses.

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