General

Examples of Operant Conditioning

In education there are many methods that have been applied throughout human history. Many of them have been refuted by experts and left in oblivion, others have been improved and applied for many decades, such as Operant Conditioning.

What is operant conditioning?

Starting in 1938, Burrhus Frederic Skinner, an American psychologist, introduced the concept in his book on the behaviors and learning of organisms. There he explains that this method consists of inducing the subject to have behaviors that only have positive results , given the granting of a stimulating element, which can be positive or negative.

It is an associative learning in which the example is the main way of introducing knowledge .

Skinner proposes that responses that have some type of reward are capable of being repeated, unlike those that are punished, which will be less likely to do so.

Phases of operant conditioning

As in any process, operant conditioning goes through several phases that may or may not be recursive. In this case, it is made up of five parts:

  • Acquisition . It is about obtaining a response before receiving a reinforcement, that is, some type of reward or incentive. With repetition the response becomes stronger as a consequence, of course, of the reinforcers.
  • Generalization . It is when the type of reinforced responses can be adapted to similar situations.
  • Discrimination . Contrary to the above, people know how to recognize when a response is not adaptable to any situation.
  • Extinction . When a reinforcement is eliminated in some specific response. The consequence of this is that the behavior will diminish its appearance.
  • Spontaneous recovery . This is when extinguished responses reappear after a break.

Examples of operant conditioning

  • Give a dog a food treat when he sits down. This makes the dog understand that if he sits he will get food and therefore he will do it repeatedly.
  • Congratulate a child when he has gotten good grades. Get your child to learn that having good grades is a good thing and will motivate him to keep doing it.
  • Charge commissions. This has as a consequence that an employee tries even more because that effort will have a monetary reward.
  • Receive a medal of merit. In several organizations they give some type of award to the best employees. This will follow the behavior of doing your job very well.
  • Stop congratulating a child when he gets a good grade. This increases the child’s need for approval and therefore improves his behavior to get better grades.
  • Wash dishes because he or she has cooked. Makes the person who cooked it continue to cook.
  • Letting those who have participated more in the class go to recess earlier. Encourage children to participate in the whole class.

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