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Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is a behavioral theory that purports to explain much human and animal behavior. This behavior may be of either the normative or the clinical variety. The theory posits that behavior change occurs as a result of the events that precede or follow a behavioral response. According to this theory, all behaviors either increase or decrease in frequency as the result of the consequences that follow the behavior. For example, when a baby’s babbling is followed by the mother’s smile and gentle touch, the babbling behavior is likely to increase in frequency. In this case, the mother’s smile and touch is called a reinforcer, because reinforcers, presented following a behavior, result in an increase in the probability that a specific behavior will increase in ...

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