Reinforcement Versus Punishment

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  • Reinforcement is a key umbrella concept of behaviorism. Basically, it claims that behavior, as a response to the environmental events surrounding it, is more likely to reoccur if it has been rewarded (or reinforced) and that behavior is less likely to reoccur if its consequence has been aversive. Reinforcement, therefore, is a consequence of a response that increases the probability of the behavior's recurrence. It can be positive or negative, depending on its effect on behavior.

    For an effective behavioral consequence, reinforcement presented or removed must have the following two important characteristics: (1) it must increase the rate of responding in a given environmental condition and (2) it must be immediately contingent on the execution of an appropriate response, hence the term contingent stimulus. As mentioned ...

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