Term Paper: Theory Principle or Concept

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¶ … Psychology offers a vast network of concepts, principles, and theories to explain and describe the mental and behavioral characteristics of an individual or group. It is a science that explores biological, cognitive, social, and various other aspects of the human mind and human interaction to explain mental processes. One such concept of psychology that attempts to explain a realm of mental processing is Behaviorism. Behaviorism is a philosophy of psychology that emphasizes how previous learning experiences influence, and are reflected, in shaping behaviors (Heffner). The core of Behaviorism centers on studying only observable behaviors, as behavioral research would be too subjective if mood, thoughts, or emotions were also considered.

Behavior Psychology is an umbrella topic of its own, and covers a multitude of principles and concepts. One subcategory of Behavioral Psychology is Operant Conditioning. Operant Conditioning is a type of learning, in which a behavior's preceding influences or its impending consequence manipulates the formed behavior. This type of behavioral conditioning operates as an ongoing evaluation of consequences, how one anticipates said consequences, and reflects them in their actions.

One of the critical tools in executing Operant Conditioning is the concept of Reinforcement. In terms of psychology, reinforcement refers to stimuli which strengthen or increases the probably of a specific response or behavior. A simple example of a reinforcer is teaching a dog how to sit, and giving them a treat every time they perform. The treat becomes the reinforcer and increases the probability of the sitting response (Heffner). There are four types of reinforcement: positive, negative, punishment, and extinction.

Positive reinforcement is the same as the dog example - giving a treat to evoke the sitting response. This involves giving positive responses to encourage the desired behavior. The two most common methods of Positive reinforcement are praise and rewards. Examples of praise include telling someone "good job" or telling someone how nice they look when they dress-up. Rewards can involve a monetary bonus at work after a difficult project, or giving a child their favorite dessert to compliment well behavior during dinner. These positive incentives raise the probably of the desired behavior.

A negative reinforcer is the use of any negative stimulus to increase the wanted response or behavior. An example of a negative reinforcer is a fire alarm. The fire alarm sounds as the negative stimulus, and induces people to run out of the building. Another example is the fear of having a low grade on a test as a negative reinforcer for studying. In both of these instances, the negative stimuli reflect the anticipated consequences, and ultimately the appropriate behavior has been conditioned.

The third type of reinforcement, punishment, includes adding a stimulus that is apathetic in nature in order to decrease a behavior. Common examples of punishment revolve around the disciplining of children and adolescents. These types of punishments encompass a variety of parenting methods to time-outs,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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