How could you use operant conditioning, with a program of shaping, to get a messy roommate to make his bed? Include and label antecedent stimulus, response and reinforcement of the changing program...

How could you use operant conditioning, with a program of shaping, to get a messy roommate to make his bed? Include and label antecedent stimulus, response and reinforcement of the changing program standards, and a method of self-regulation for the roommate.

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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     There are a number of antecedent stimuli which may be included in such a conditioning model.  To make things easier to read we'll name the clean roommate, Roommate A and the other Roommate B.  One stimuli would be for Roommate A to clean his side of the room.  If this prompts B to clean, then the stimuli is established.  If it does not prompt a cleaning, A will need to continue to find ways to stimulate B into cleaning.  However, the best antecedent would be a direct action of A.

     The response is simply what B does in response to the stimuli.  If A cleans his side of the room and B responds with the same action, it is evident.  However, A needs to be aware of less evident responses.  A may make his bed, which prompts B to pick up clothes on the floor.  This would indicate a response, just not the one A is looking for.

     Reinforcements in the scenario would depend on the personality of the roommates.  A may pay B for a clean room in an overt reinforcement.  A covert reinforcement may be bringing home pizza every time the room is cleaned by B.  B will eventually connect the two actions and begin to formulate a response to receive the reward.  A might only need to compliment B and feed his ego.

     In this scenario, A would be served with a reward versus punishment.  Although punishments can work, for example having the roommate pay extra rent for cleaning, the behavior will often return upon completion of the experiment (when A or B moves out).

     One form of developing self regulation is getting B to understand the benefit of cleaning even without stimuli from A.  This can be in the form of a compliment from outside observers or witnessing A receive some punishment for not cleaning.  A stimuli reversal can be a powerful motivator. 

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