Shaping by Successive Approximations for the Desired Behavior

Shaping is a stepwise behavioral learning strategy for the strengthening and eventual acquisition of complex, novel behaviors, developed by psychologist B. F. Skinner and based on his principles of operant conditioning. Behavior is guided or shaped by a technique known as successive approximations, enabling animals or humans to learn a sequence of behaviors that are within their capability but not a part of their normative behavioral repertoire and would not otherwise be naturally emitted. Each step in the shaping process consists of a hierarchical series of isolated behaviors that build one upon another in an additive fashion. Responses are differentially reinforced as each successive approximation emitted from the subject comes closer to the target behavior. The shaping procedure consists of a hierarchically applied seven-step ...

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