Sociology Index

OPERANT CONDITIONING

Classical Conditioning, Punishment, Reinforcement

Operant conditioning is the basic process by which an individual's behaviour is shaped by Reinforcement or by Punishment. In Psychology, operant is an item of behaviour held not to be a response to a prior stimulus but something initially spontaneous, operating on or affecting the environment so as to produce consequences which may reinforce or inhibit recurrence of that behaviour.

Implications for therapies and treatments using classical conditioning differ from operant conditioning.

Utilization of an Operant Conditioning Model for the Treatment of Character and Behavior Disorders in a Military Setting - ARTHUR D. COLMAN, Research psychiatrist, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington and STEWART L. BAKER JR., Chief, department of psychiatry and neurology, Walter Reed General Hospital - Am J Psychiatry 125:1395-1403, April 1969.

The operant conditioning model was applied to a ward program for delinquent military recruits diagnosed as having character and behavior disorders.

Operant Conditioning in Skinnerbots - David S. Touretzky, Lisa M. Saksida, Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA - Adaptive Behavior, Vol. 5, (1997) - Instrumental (or operant) conditioning, a form of animal learning, is similar to reinforcement learning (Watkins, 1989) in that it allows an agent to adapt its actions to gain maximally from the environment while being rewarded only for correct performance.

Operant Conditioning of a .300 Hitter? - The Effects of Reinforcement on the Offensive Efficiency of a Barnstorming Baseball Team - William L. Heward, Ohio State University and Indianapolis Clowns Baseball Club - Behavior Modification, Vol. 2, No. 1, 25-40 (1978)
Nine members of a professional touring baseball team served as subjects in an experiment to test the effects of reinforcement on individual and team offensive production. A new baseball statistic, the Efficiency Average (EA), was developed and recorded as the dependent variable.

Operant Conditioning in a Vietnamese Mental Hospital 
LLOYD H. COTTER M.D., Teaching Consultant for Professional Education, Psychiatric Residency Training Program, Pacific State Hospital, Pomona, Calif - Am J Psychiatry 124:23-28, July 1967
Operant conditioning was applied in the special circumstances of a Vietnamese mental hospital with a largely untreated and idle patient population. Results demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique for motivating patients to resume productive activity.

The problem of generalization in the operant conditioning of social speech in the severely subnormal. Use of reversal to establish generalizability - ES Barton - The British Journal of Psychiatry 127: 376-385 (1975)
Many severely subnormal patients talk little to each other. In this experiment, three pairs of subjects were reinforced for talking to each other, and learned to do so quite quickly.

Teachers and Operant Conditioning - Frey, Sherman 
Abstract: A survey was conducted of 406 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers to determine their understanding, acceptance, and use of the principle of operant conditioning. The treatment of data was by percent and chi square analysis primarily according to sex, experience, degree, and position. Subjects reported that a) they believed that the nature of the interaction between students and teachers is an influencing factor in student achievement and is deserving of concentrated study; b) they were familiar with the principle of operant conditioning; c) they understood the principle of operant conditioning but they had not decided about accepting it as a principle for governing behavior; and d) they felt that operant conditioning may be used to control the behavior of groups as well as individuals and that the managing of behavior is ethical within the context of the operant model. Subjects' indecisiveness about operant conditioning is reflected in the reporting of its usage in their classrooms: 126 use the technique, 116 do not, and 164 gave no response to the question.

EasyChild Report: Working With Children Through Operant Conditioning Learning 
Abstract: EasyChild is a behavior modification software system designed to encourage children to succeed in life. This behavioral software system is designed to help raise children with consistent rewards for their achievements.
Why does EasyChild work? Because it is based on how children learn: Operant Conditioning, where a proper response is the outcome of certain stimuli, such as rewards. However, current talk therapy and counseling espouses that Operant Conditioning may not be an important child raising theory, but that is an anachronism. Research indicates that Operant Conditioning is one of the few approaches to working with children, with and without special needs, that has efficacy.