Negative Reinforcement

Description of the Concept

A negative reinforcer is a stimulus the withdrawal or escape from which, or the postponement, termination, or avoidance of which, increases the probability of (i.e., strengthens) responses that produce any of these events. Negative reinforcement (NR) is the descriptive label for the relationship between the stimulus, the events, and the change in probability. NR is a ubiquitous phenomenon, and examples of negatively reinforced behavior abound on every scale of human (and infrahuman) existence. Some small-scale examples include scratching irritated skin, pulling up the covers on a cold night, turning off an alarm, rolling up the car windows while driving on a dusty road, using mouthwash, moving away from the campfire, using sunscreen, visiting the bathroom before boarding an airplane, ...

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