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Using Operant Reinforcers to Change a Bad Habit

How would you use operant conditioning to change a bad habit such as biting fingernails or always arriving late to appointments? Compare and contrast reinforcers and punishment.

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Operant conditioning is defined as using rewards to reinforce a voluntary behavior or using consequences to modify a voluntary behavior. This is different than classical conditioning because it requires action on the part of the person whose behavior is being modified. Psychologist B.F. Skinner was most noted for studying the conditioning of operant behaviors. Skinner designed an experiment using rats, in which he would place the rat into a box. Inside the box there was a lever that released food when pressed. The rats quickly learned that pressing the lever gave the reward of food. Pressing the lever was the operant behavior and the food was the positive reinforcer, which increased the behavior. ...

Solution Summary

In this article, I give a definition of operant conditioning along with a brief history. The article also explains, in detail, how operant conditioning could be used to rid oneself of a bad habit such as arriving late to appointments. Finally, the article goes on to compare and contrast positive and negative reinforcers with punishment.