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BEH 225 Week 4 Checkpoint - Skinner Article


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Skinner Article 1
CheckPoint – Skinner Article
Your Name Here
Axia College of the University of Phoenix
BEH 225
Instructor, Name
Month and Day, 2010

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Skinner Article 2
Learning: Skinner Article
Burrhus Frederic Skinner‘s contributions to psychology are clearly evident in but not
limited to parent and toddler and dog owner and pet relationships. Intricately, the relationships
involve operant conditioning, punishment, positive reinforcement, and the belief in superstitions
as defined and deployed by Skinner. Operant conditioning involves the regulation of behavior
by its consequences.
Skinner had determined that through operant conditioning each step toward learning a
behavior is reinforced and theorized this form of behavioral condition to be the best way to
instruct and learn. “Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner's S-R theory. A reinforcer is
anything that strengthens the desired response. Positive reinforcement is a mechanism
associated with operant conditioning to promising or providing a reward for success.” (Pierce
and Cheney, 2004) Moreover, this is a powerful motivator. “When a particular Stimulus-
Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond.”
(Pierce and Cheney, 2004) To exemplify this process; presenting a child or pet with praise or a
treat when a command has been followed. Equally, punishment may be applied in operant
conditioning. And – “for punishment to be effective, it must be imposed properly. First,
punishment should be swift. Children who misbehave should be punished right away so they
know that what they have done is wrong. Punishment should also be sufficient without being
cruel.” (Morris and Maisto, 2002, p. 196) Punishment may be unpleasant and non-physical, e.g.,
assign a child with “time out” for his or her disobedient behavior. All reinforcers (both positive
and negative) increase the likelihood that a behavior will reoccur, punishment is an event whose
presence decreases the likelihood that ongoing behavior will recur. Reinforcement always
strengthens behavior; punishment weakens it. Avoidance training involves learning a desirable

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Skinner Article 3
behavior that prevents an unpleasant condition, such as punishment, from occurring.
Superstition, Skinner taught us, occurs when one associates “false notion” with a defined
act or event occurs - as in the case of a child who believes that a magical event will transpire but
only when the right word is spoken, “Abracadabra”. Superstition may involve the development
of elaborate explanations for accidental or randomly occurring reinforcements, which may be
purely coincidental events (Morris and Maisto, 2002, p. 198).

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