Vicarious Reinforcement

Vicarious reinforcement more generally falls under the rubric of social learning and modeling theory procedures. These procedures are often called observational learning or, more simply, modeling. As with simple reinforcement procedures, vicarious reinforcement involves the alteration of environmental consequences to increase the probability of the occurrence of a given behavior. Unlike other reinforcement procedures, however, vicarious reinforcement does not involve direct application of consequences to the individual whose behavior is targeted for change; rather, learning takes place when an individual observes the consequences that result from another's behavior.

Vicarious reinforcement, like more straightforward reinforcement procedures, can either involve the addition of desirable stimuli (i.e., positive reinforcement) or the removal of aversive stimuli (i.e., negative reinforcement). Examples from everyday life include the adolescent who starts ...

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