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Psy 390 Operant Conditioning Week 3 Ind. Assign.

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Operant Conditioning Paper 1
Operant Conditioning Paper
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PSY 390: Learning and Cognition
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Operant Conditioning Paper 2
Operant Conditioning
Introduction
Operant Conditioning was created by B.F. Skinner and is represents the idea that learning
is a function of change in observable behavior. The change in behavior is triggered by one’s
response to the events or stimuli that occurs. The stimulus that causes the behavior is referred to
as reinforceres and can be either positive or negative. Reinforcement is the key factor in
Skinners operant conditioning theory and can be any factor that strengthens the occurrence of
the desired behavior ranging from something one’s mother tells them, an award for making good
grades, or a feeling of increased accomplishment. Rather or not a positive or negative
reinforcement has a greater effect on behavior varies with each individual and situation. Operant
conditioning enabled Skinner, along with other researchers to understand behavioral explanations
for a wide range of cognitive experiences. “Operant conditioning has been widely applied in
clinical settings (i.e., behavior modification) as well as teaching (i.e., classroom management)
and instructional development (e.g., programmed instruction)” (Kearsley, 2011).
The Theory of Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning is characterized by two main principles: “(1) any response that is
followed by a reinforcing stimulus tends to be repeated; and (2) a reinforcing stimulus is
anything that increases the rate with which an operant response occurs” (Olson & Hergenhahn,
2009). Operant conditioning can be applied to a variety of circumstances involved with one’s
behavior. The theory of operant conditioning involves simply finding a factor that causes an
individual to behave a certain way every time the factor or reinforcer is presented. This theory
also involves modifying behavior. Olson & Hergenhahn (2009) explain this by stating, “to
modify behavior, one merely has to find something that is reinforcing for the organism whose

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