Behavioral Psychology in a nutshell?



This school of thought, the behavioral psychology of E.L. Thorndike and B.F. Skinner, et al, teaches that behavior is maintained or reinforced by its immediate effects, results or consequences. Rewards or reinforcers are generally things or events that meet human needs; for example: food, attention, acceptance, approval, praise, affection - all these are potent reinforcers that can maintain or strengthen a pattern or a piece of behavior.

To produce changes in behavior, then, you would have to reinforce (reward) any slight movement in the desired direction.. This is known as differential reinforcement of successive approximations to a desired response.

'Behaviorally-focused' psychologists view all behavior as being as simple as ABC : Antecedent stimuli ; Behavioral response ; Consequences.

The C factor is the reinforcer which determines the strength or probability of the specific piece of behavior.

Variables tested in the experimental laboratory using the Skinner Box (after B.F. Skinner, et al) include:

1. Magnitude or SIZE of the reward given, and

2. Timing of the reward.

Results in experiments with rats showed clearly that varying the SIZE of a reward was less effective as a reinforcer of behaviour than the TIMING of the reward.

That is, big rewards were equally as effective as smaller rewards in behavior modification.

The fact of IMMEDIACY of being given a reward is FAR more potent!

I believe that these results with rats in the experimental lab can be generalized to dogs - and to humans (primates) as you know when operating on The Internet... you just love immediate response and instant gratification, don't you? The whole appeal used online is for "instant access" and "download now" which are examples of IMMEDIACY of reinforcement. Your 'mouse-click' actions are reinforced and there is a higher probability of you doing the same thing again! Even with a tiny reward :=)

The above examples refer to 'positive reinforcement.' If you take an action to stop some discomfort (to terminate an aversive stimulus) then your action will receive 'negative reinforcement' by the stopping of the pain or mild electric shock or loud sound, whatever the stimulus may be.

This is NOT the same as punishment, however. Behavioral psychologists have discovered that punishment simply does not work! It confuses the subject about what the acceptable behaviour may be - and the subject stops 'generating positive behaviors' and gives up trying!








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What is behavioral psychology ?


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Yes! behavioral psychology suggests.. reward yourself!

Go on, reward yourself. Learn to set goals then to 'reinforce' your own actions! As step by step, you draw closer to your goal. - Magnetize yourself - towards the goal and receive ... behavioral reinforcement:

Reward and reinforcement with a medal as at High School