We define reinforcement by the effects it has on behavior. Reinforcement is an operation term we use to refer to anything that increases the probability that a reaction will occur. The term is used in psychology to cite any stimuli which strengthen the possibility of a detailed response. We all apply reinforcement every day, sometimes even without realizing that we are doing it. For example, you may reward a student for good performance. There is an excellent possibility that the student will perform better next time because he/she knows that there is a reward for good performance. Reinforcement can be positive, negative, extinct, or in the form of punishment.
We define positive reinforcement as adding something extra to increase the response. We will achieve positive reinforcement through reward or praise. For example, adding glory to a child for cleaning their room will increase the probability of it happening again. On the other hand, negative reinforcement is taking something away to raise a response and withholding payment until a particular job is completely done. Punishment is another form of support.
An example is disciplining a child for bad behavior. To avoid punishment, the child will stop the unruly behavior. The other type of reinforcement is negative punishment. You withdraw something to decrease a behavior.
With knowledge about the four types of reinforcement, it is essential to understand how and when to apply them. For example, do we reward a student every time he/she performs better, do we punish a student every time they did something wrong?. The rule of punishment is determined by time or the number of responses required to remove a punisher. Applying one type of reinforcement every time a behavior occurs is a continuous schedule. It works best approach is when using punishment. Inconsistences in the discipline of students result in resentment. We have two ongoing programs, namely fixed ratio and fixed interval.
A fixed-ratio schedule occurs following specific attempts to correct retaliations. For instance, a teacher punishes students after three times, asking them to finish their assignment. The problem is that the students will notice that they can escape with two requests before the teacher has to act. This type of schedule builds a high response rate though irregular responding may occur if augmentation is stopped. Fixed interval, on the other hand, is applying stimulation after a definite duration of time. For example, if a student can stop using a set skill following reinforcement and work again just before the reinforcement period. A fixed gap schedule is easy to implement.
Reinforcement is also applied irregularly. There are two variable schedules; variable ratio and variable interval. Variable ratio creates a stable and high response rate. An example is gambling. Variable gap schedule reinforcement is done after a variable number of times in the final schedule. An example, if your boss checks your projects regularly, you are forced to work hard at all times because you don’t know when his next checkup would be. Variable interval is inappropriate for teaching new behavior. Irregular schedules tend to be more effective compared to continuous programs.
Type of Reinforcement schedule illustration Outcome Examples
Fixed interval Applying stimulation after a specific duration of time Straightforward to implement A student can stop using the target tool following reinforcement and start to work again just before the reinforcement period.
Variable interval Done following a varying amount of time in the last schedule Steady response rate When your boss investigates your work regularly, you are forced to work hard at all times because you don’t know when his next checkup would be
Fixed ratio It occurs after a specific number of attempts to correct responses It makes a high response rate though uneven responding may occur if reinforcement is stopped The teacher punishes students after three times asking them to finish their assignment
Variable ratio We do reinforcement after an unpredictable number of responses. Creates a stable and high response rate Gambling
The appropriate way to influence behavior is to use positive reinforcement. Giving rewards to good performers is motivation. Increasing dividends every time an employee performs better than the last time increases motivation. Not only to him/her but also to the other employees willing to outdo him/her to get the rewards—the employees’ work input increases which correspondingly increases the output. An increase in production increases the profit margin. Continuous reinforcement works best in a scenario to teach a new behavior. For example, in a business setting, can use constant support to implement new operations methods to the employees compared to partial reinforcement.
Different reinforcement schedules work differently in specific areas. Several factors will influence how well will learn efficiently new behavior and old behaviors modified. Our lives today are affected by the type of reinforcements that we face. We should be able to differentiate either we want to increase or decrease a behavior. Punishment and reinforcement take place in their natural setting and structured settings such as therapy settings. Sometimes our behaviors might be influenced by natural consequences. Rewards and punishment for our behaviors are things we may recognize in our lives. Whether it is our way of teaching children, either at school or home, we must know that learning takes time. Let’s consider the type of punishment or reinforcement that best fits a distinctive situation and assess the kind of assessment scheme that might to exceptional results.