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.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Using operant conditioning is the act of using stimulus and reaction to begin training a response for your roommate.

The antecedent stimulus is the event or stimulus that precedes a response. What needs to happen to get the roommate to act is there needs to be some action that absolutely...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Using operant conditioning is the act of using stimulus and reaction to begin training a response for your roommate.

The antecedent stimulus is the event or stimulus that precedes a response. What needs to happen to get the roommate to act is there needs to be some action that absolutely necessitates a response. Let's say for the sake of the example you plan a movie night in your room. This is the stimulus.

The response is obviously how your roommate will respond to this stimulus. Hopefully they will respond by cleaning up their part of the room. If they respond in another way, such as complaining or simply refusing to clean, then you can take different responses.

The reinforcement is your response to their action. Assuming the roommate cleaned up, you would encourage and thank them, perhaps mentioning that it'd be fun to do this sort of thing more often. This gives an incentive and encourages the roommate to do the right thing—as well as giving them a reward for having done it this time. If they react negatively, your reinforcement is something negative in response—cancelling the plans or something similar.

Finally, the act of regulation could be tied to the response you mentioned, such as continuing to encourage movie nights or similar events. Eventually, you want to be able to leave the roommate to do the action themselves.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Operant conditioning uses positive reinforcement (rewards) to encourage desired behavior and negative reinforcement (punishment) to discourage undesirable behavior. Antecedent behavior is what occurs directly before a problem behavior.

In this example, the undesirable behavior is a messy, unmade bed, and the desired behavior is a neatly made bed.

To locate the antecedent behavior that leads to your roommate leaving the room without making his bed, you would have to observe his habits when he wakes up in the morning. If you notice that he sleeps in to the last possible moment, then jumps up, throws on clothes, and races out the door, you would likely want to interfere with the antecedent behavior of sleeping too long in the morning. One way you could do this would be use positive reinforcement to gradually condition the roommate to get up earlier so he has time to make up his bed. If he likes coffee and donuts, you could have these items ready at the appropriate time and offer them to him—but only after you both have made up your beds. Explain that you like to have a tidy environment in which to sit, sip, eat, and chat. Self-regulation would occur as the roommate gradually began to set his alarm to the proper, earlier time without prompting from you.

Ideally, over time, the habit of waking up earlier and making his bed would form in the roommate, so you would no longer need to reinforce the behavior with a treat—although coffee and donuts sounds like a friendly ritual to maintain.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Using operant conditioning is essentially a way to train your roommate to make his bed using positive or negative reinforcement in some way. The best method would be to subtly offer positive rewards for your roommate making his/her bed every day.

The antecedent stimulus is the triggering action—in this case it could be mentioning how messy the room is and wishing it was nice enough to bring some friends over. Hopefully, this would stimulate the roommate to make their bed so they could receive a positive reward. If they do so, you would invite friends over, thereby rewarding their actions (this is the reward/response of their actions). The more you do this, it will reinforce their actions.

Finally, you can encourage self-control and regulation in the roommate by slowly easing off mentioning the cleanliness of the room and eventually referring only to the visiting friends. Whenever the roommate becomes accustomed to that, hopefully they will begin to take on the responsibility themselves in hopes of having friends over without external stimulation from yourself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Operant conditioning (also known as instrumental conditioning) is a process of learning by means of rewards and punishment for certain behaviors. It is based on the idea that behaviors which are rewarded will continue, while those which lead to punishment will eventually cease.

Shaping can be defined as the process of rewarding behavior as it moves closer to the desired or targeted behavior.

An antecedent is an event or circumstance that takes place just before a behavior is displayed. For example, if you insult somebody and then they punch you, the insult was the antecedent and the punch was the result.

In psychological terms, reinforcement is a stimulus that makes a certain response more likely. For example, if you are training your parrot and you want him to climb onto your finger without biting you, then giving him a treat every time he does this is a way of reinforcing this positive behavior.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

     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. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If you are asking about the different types of behavior modification, I can help you.

Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to mold behavior. With operant conditioning reinforcement, punishment, and extinction are used.

Shaping is "The differential reinforcement of successive approximations."

Antecedents are what happens before a subject displays a behavior. An example would be: someone knocks at the door and the dog barks. The antecedent would be the knock at the door.

Reinforcement is a response to an event to either increase or decrease its occurrence. A positive reinforcement would be to add a stimulus to increase a behavior. A negative reinforcement would be to remove a stimulus to increase a behavior.

Self-regulation is the ability to exert self control and manage one's emotions and behaviors.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team