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Schedules of Reinforcement

Background

Instances of a behavior occur in the context of temporally proximal environmental events. For example, each time a student says “Hi” to another student in the hallway of a school, immediate changes occur in the environment (consequences), which might include a return greeting, a nonverbal acknowledgment, or being ignored as the other student walks by. Some kinds of consequences (positive and negative reinforcers) may make the behavior more likely to occur in the future, and some consequences (positive and negative punishers) may make the behavior less likely to occur.

These relationships between instances of a behavior and their consequences are called contingencies. The development of a record of all occurrences of any particular behavior (e.g., saying “Hello” to someone) and corresponding types ...

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