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    Cognitive Psychology Theories: Operant Conditioning

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    900 words in which you examine the concept of learning and how it is related to cognition. In your examination, address the following questions:

    o Describe the theory of operant conditioning.
    o Compare and contrast positive and negative reinforcement.
    o Determine which form of reinforcement is the most effective. Explain your reasoning.
    o Select a scenario in which you would apply operant conditioning to shape behavior.
    o Create a reinforcement schedule for your selected behavior

    Format according to APA standards.

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    Solution Preview

    1. The general idea of operant conditioning is 'if I do x, then then y will happen'. That is, behaviour is modified by its consequences. Behaviours which are followed by aversive consequences will decrease in the future, while those that are followed by pleasant consequences will increase in the future.

    2. Positive and negative reinforcement are two possible behaviour-consequence contingencies that we can use in operant conditioning. In any case of reinforcement, we see behaviour increase (while in any case of punishment, we see behaviour decrease). In positive reinforcement, the behaviour increases because we've added a (desirable) consequence. For example, when you go to work, you get paid, so in the future, you go to work more often. The behaviour is going to work; the consequence is getting paid. In the case of negative reinforcement, the behaviour increases because we've withheld an (undesirable) consequence. For example, when you drive to work early, you avoid traffic (sitting in traffic is removed), so in the future, you go to work early more often. The behaviour is leaving early for work; the consequence is avoiding traffic.

    3. Positive reinforcement tends to be more effective than negative reinforcement, although there is some argument about this. Certainly, reinforcement protocols are ...

    Solution Summary

    Explains positive and negative reinforcement, the basic concept of operant conditioning, and the different types of schedules of reinforcement (continuous, fixed ratio, variable ratio, fixed interval, variable interval). Provides examples.