Operant conditioning is a form of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for actions, also referred to as instrumental conditioning. A person establishes an association between a specific action and a result through operant conditioning. By conducting experiments using animals that were put in a Skinner box, Skinner studied operant conditioning. A hungry rat was put by psychologist B.F. Skinner in a box containing a lever. As the rat walked around the cage, the rat would push the lever periodically, thereby finding that when the lever was pushed, food would drop. After some time, when the rat was put inside the box, the rat started running straight toward the lever, indicating that the rat had found out that the lever meant that the rat would get food. A rat with an electrified floor was put inside a Skinner box in a similar experiment, causing the rat discomfort. The rat found out that the electric current was halted by pushing the lever. After some time, the rat learned that the lever would mean that the rat would no longer be exposed to an electrical current, and when the rat was put inside the box, the rat started running straight toward the lever. The Skinner box experiment illustrates operating conditioning in which, by associating this with consequences (dropping a food pellet or stopping an electric current), an animal or person learns an action (pressing a lever). The three kinds of reinforcement are as follows:
Positive reinforcement: To teach a new behavior when something positive is introduced ( for example a food pellet falls into the box).
Negative reinforcement: To teach a new behavior when something unpleasant is removed (for example such as an electric current stop).
Punishment: To teach the subject to avoid a behavior when something negative is introduced.
Some misconceptions about behavior in psychology include: Five general areas of misconceptions regarding the writings of Skinner were identified by DeBell and Harless (1992): The role of physiological processes and genes in the understanding of behavior has been discarded.
Believed that every behavior can be conditioned
Neglected the individual’s universality
Viewed punishment as a preferred way of regulating actions
Denied the involvement of internal states DeBell and Harless noticed that various misconceptions about Skinnerâ€™s work were displayed by participants throughout all levels of education. There were more errors on items covering the myths throughout all levels (Skinner claims that genes play a major role in influencing behavior) than on general items (according to Skinner, another term for punishment is negative reinforcement). Another popular misconception about behavior is that bribery is reinforcement. Of course, in the sense of managing developmental disorders and problem behavior, this common misunderstanding happens more often. The tendency of the uninformed to attend to the topography of actions without understanding the underlying behavioral functions or the therapeutic mechanism is also behind this misunderstanding. Unless the uncommon member of the public sees a behavioral analyst offering encouragement for better actions, particularly constructed reinforcements (candy, and small treats), then this activity alone is wrongly identified by the public as the treatment. Behaviorist Watson was criticized for trying to translate into behaviorist language certain mentalist concepts such as desires, meanings, and feelings that were considered by other theories as certain misconceptions; as such mental concepts undermine the objectivity-focused methodological behaviorism.
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