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Operant Conditioning: Positive and Negative Reinforcement

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Operant Conditioning is a process of behavior modification in which the likelihood of a specific behavior increased or decreased through positive or negative reinforcement each time the behavior is exhibited, so that the subject comes to associate the pleasure or displeasure of the reinforcement. An early theory of operant conditioning was proposed my Edward Thornlike, he used instrumental learning because the response is instrumental when receiving the reward, another name is S-R learning (Stimulus S, has been paired with response R). A device called an operant box also called a Skinner Box was designed by B.F Skinner.

In my experiment with Operant Conditioning, I trained my dog not to bite at me every time I would give her a bone. I used both positive and negative reinforces to help. It took me about two weeks to teach her how not to bite. She would receive one treat in the morning before school, at lunch and after I got home. The conditioning was very consistent to be exact the times she received the treats was 7:30am, 12 noon and 3:30pm everyday for two weeks.

Every time I would give her I would tell her come here, as I reached for the box of treats she started jumping up and down, and when I would go give her the treat she would almost bite my finger off trying to get it. So every time she would go to bite, I would use negative reinforcement by telling her “NO” and pull the bone away from her until she could take the bone with out biting, the first couple of times she would not stop biting so she did not receive a bone and when she did not bit I would use positive reinforcement by using the law of effect by rewarding her with two bones instead of one and I would pick her up and tell her she was a good girl and play with her. After the first couple of times giving her two bones, I then only gave her two bones at random times, until she figured out that if she would stop biting she could possibly receive two bones. After two weeks of consistently training her she finally caught on, and no she takes the bone without jumping up and down or biting.

In the beginning of my experiment it was a little difficult because all she wanted was the treat instead of behaving in the proper manner. Then it started getting easier as it went along because she knew that if she went to bite me just for the bone she would get in trouble or not receive a bone. Over all my experiment was successful, because now she will take the treat with out biting or jumping all over me just to have a bone.

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