Sociology Index


Punishment, Operant conditioning, Classical conditioning

Reinforcement is a process in which a behavior is strengthened; increasing the probability that a response will occur by either presenting a contingent positive event or removing a negative event.

Reinforcement is the central concept and procedure in the experimental analysis of behavior and much of quantitative analysis of behavior. Skinner argued that reinforcers are defined by a change in response strength, and that which is a reinforcer to one person may not be to another.

Positive reinforcement is an increase in the future frequency of a behavior due to the addition of a stimulus immediately following a response. Negative reinforcement is an increase in the future frequency of a behavior when the consequence is the removal of an aversive stimulus. Avoidance conditioning is a form of negative reinforcement that occurs when a behavior prevents an aversive stimulus from starting or being applied.

Origins of Antisocial Behavior - Negative Reinforcement and Affect Dysregulation of Behavior as Socialization Mechanisms in Family Interaction - James Snyder, Lynn Schrepferman, Wichita State University
Carolyn St. Peter, Arizona State University - Behavior Modification, Vol. 21, No. 2, 187-215 (1997)
Two social-familial mechanisms, negative reinforcement and affect dysregulation, to the development of child antisocial behavior were tested using a sample of 57 8-to 13-year-old boys referred for treatment of conduct problems. Negative reinforcement of boys' aggressive behavior and boys' affect dysregulation were found to covary with the boys' irritability toward parents and siblings. Reinforcement of aggression and affect dysregulation during family interaction can play complementary role in the development of antisocial behavior by fostering the use of coercive means of dealing with social conflict perspectives.

Behavioral Momentum - Implications and Development From Reinforcement Theories
Joseph J. Plaud, George A. Gaither, University of North Dakota
Behavior Modification, Vol. 20, No. 2, 183-201 (1996)
Historical and contemporary theories of reinforcement and clinical application of reinforcement principles to behavior modification and therapy, are critically analyzed and discusssed. Recent studies have addressed the persistence of behavior under altered environmental conditions and reinforcement contingencies. Issues such as generalizability and relapse prevention have major implications for the type and length of behavioral intervention strategies employed. The behavioral momentum model analyzes operant behavior not only in terms of its response rate and in relation to its persistence under changed environmental constraints. The authors discuss the applicability of this recent addition to reinforcement theories.