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The Advantages of Positive Reinforcement over Punishment

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In your own words break down each of these three paragraphs and explain what they are trying to say about punishment and why reinforcement beats punishment

Paragraph 1

Punishment has several disadvantages that make its routine questionable. For one thing, punishment is frequently ineffective, particularly if it is not delivered shortly after the undesired behavior or if the individual is able to leave the setting in which the punishment is being given. An employee who is reprimanded by the boss may quit; a teenage who loses the use of the family car may borrow a friends' car instead. In such instance, the initial behavior that is being punished may be replaced by one that is even less desirable.

Paragraph 2

Even worse, physical punishment can convey to the recipient the idea that physical aggression is permissible and perhaps even desirable. A father who yells at and hits his son for misbehaving teaches that aggression is appropriate, adult response. The son may soon copy his father's behavior by acting aggressively toward others. In addition, physical punishment is often administered by people who are themselves angry or enraged. Punishment can also reduce the self-esteem of recipients unless they understand the reasons for it.

Paragraph 3

Finally punishment does not convey any information about what an alternative, more appropriate behavior might be. To be useful in bring about more desirable behavior in the future, punishment must be accompanied by specific information about the behavior that is being punished, along with specific suggestions concerning a more desirable behavior. Punishing a child for staring out the window in school could merely lead her to stare at the floor instead. Unless we teach her the appropriate ways to respond, we merely managed to substitute one undesirable behavior for another. If punishment is not followed up with reinforcement for subsequent behavior that is more appropriate, little will be accomplished.

In short, reinforcing desired behavior is more appropriate technique for modifying behavior than punishment. Both in and out of the scientific arena, then, reinforcement usually beats punishment

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Solution Preview

1. This paragraph is essentially stating that there are a variety of different factors that make punishment ineffective in many cases. This is due to the fact that it appears that punishments may often be avoided by individuals in certain circumstances, and that punishments only seem to work in cases where the individuals that are being punished seem to have no alternative than to adhere to the punishment. Due to these factors, this paragraph, adds credence to the theory that reinforcement is more effective than punishment in ...

Solution Summary

This solution analyzes paragraphs describing the negative aspects of punishment.