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Positive Reinforcement

Description of the Strategy

Positive reinforcement refers to a behavioral principle in which the contingent presentation of a stimulus (reinforcer) following a behavior is associated with either an increase (frequency, rate, duration, etc.) or maintenance of the future probability of that behavior occurring. The same stimulus may be reinforcing to one person (behavior increases), may have no effect on a second person (behavior does not change), or may even be punishing to a third person (behavior decreases).

The reinforcing qualities of a stimulus are determined by how it is contingently manipulated and the associated effect on the future probability of behavioral occurrences. For example, an educator might complain, “I really gave him a talking to and reprimanded him for his behavior, but he ...

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