Reinforcement, Positive and Negative (Encyclopedia of Science)
In psychology, reinforcement refers to the procedure of presenting or removing a stimulus to maintain or increase the likelihood of a behavioral response. (A stimulus is something that causes a response.) Reinforcement is usually divided into two types: positive and negative.
If a stimulus is presented immediately after a behavior and that stimulus increases the probability that the behavior will occur again, the stimulus is called a positive reinforcer. Giving a child candy for cleaning his or her room is an example of a positive reinforcer. The child will learn to clean his or her room (behavior) more often in the future, believing he or she will receive something positivehe candy (stimulus)n return.
Like positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement increases the likelihood that a behavior associated with it will be continued. However, a negative reinforcer is an unpleasant stimulus that is removed after a behavioral response. Negative reinforcers can range from uncomfortable physical sensations to actions causing severe physical distress. Taking aspirin for a headache is an example of negative reinforcement. If a person's headache (stimulus) goes away after taking aspirin (behavior), then it is likely that the person will take aspirin for headaches in the future.
Reinforcers can also be further classified as primary and secondary. Primary...
(The entire section is 884 words.)
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