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Operant Conditioning - Essay Example

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Summary
Pierce and Cheney stated in their book on Behavioral Analysis and Learning that "Behavior Analysis is a comprehensive approach to study of behavior of organisms." An organism alters or changes the behavior so as to meet the ever changing needs of the environment…
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Operant Conditioning
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Operant Conditioning 02 January 2006 Operant Conditioning Pierce and Cheney d in their book on Behavioral Analysis and Learning that "Behavior Analysis is a comprehensive approach to study of behavior of organisms." An organism alters or changes the behavior so as to meet the ever changing needs of the environment. The process of learning to meet the demands of the environment is called conditioning. Conditioning is basically of two types i.e., Respondent Conditioning and Operant Conditioning.
According to Pierce and Cheney "Respondent conditioning occurs when a neutral or meaningless stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus" example being salivation of dog when food is placed at its mouth. On the other hand "Operant Conditioning involves the regulation of behavior by its consequences" example being a baby being picked up on smiling at a human face.
According to the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI) on WWW Operant Conditioning can be classified into reinforcements that strengthen the behavior and the reinforcements that weaken the behavior. While Positive and Negative Reinforcements strengthen the behavior, Punishment and Extinction Reinforcements weaken the behavior.
Wikipedia the free encyclopedia on WWW stated that reinforcement is a consequence that induces the behavior to occur with greater frequency, whereas punishment is a consequence that induces the behavior to occur with less frequency. Extinction is not experiencing either positive or negative consequence means no stimuli.
Wood E. Samuel, Ellen Green Wood and Denise Boyd stated that "Shaping is an operant conditioning technique that consists of gradually molding a desired behavior (response) by reinforcing responses that become progressively closer to it." Skinner used the shaping technique for conditioning complex behaviors. By adopting this technique a researcher or a trainer or a teacher or a parent reinforce the movement in the direction of desired response, thus leading to responses to achieve the ultimate goal. These series of responses which are much closer to each other are called successive approximations. Examples of shaping technique being adopted in day-to-day life are, parents using this technique to help their children learn good table manners by praising them every time they show an improvement. Teachers adopt this technique by encouraging disruptive children reinforcing them at short intervals and then gradually expect them to work productively for longer periods. Similarly this technique is adopted by a circus trainer (ring master) to teach animals such as Lions, Tigers, Elephants and Monkeys to perform amazing feats such as jumping through a fire ring, walking on a rope, riding a bicycle etc., (2004).
Thus we can see from above that Shaping can be productively used in daily life to learn as well as teach to obtain better results. A person can improve and achieve better, leading to the best result by adopting shaping technique. In this context let us recall the age old adage "Practice Makes the Man Perfect"; this adage was probably told based on this technique. Many people adopt this technique unknowingly and achieve best results.
Works Cited
W. David Pierce and Carl D. Cheney. "Behavior Analysis and Learning."
ISBN 0805844899. (2003).
Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI). Maricopa Community Colleges.
Negative Reinforcement University. 1999.
Operant conditioning From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2005
Samuel E Wood, Ellen R Green Wood, Denise Roberts. "Mastering the World of Psychology." Publisher: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, Boston. ISBN: 0205358683. (2004) Read More
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