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Operant Conditioning

Classical conditioning involves involuntary behaviors. If an object approach your eyes too close, you will blank. That is a reflex. However, if you are scared of snakes, that is a voluntary choice. That kind of learning that applies voluntary behaviors is called Operant Conditioning.  
One research that enforced this type of learning is “Thorndike’s Puzzle Box”.  
  •  Edward L Thorndike placed a hungry cat in a box. Cats do not like being confined, and there was a dish outside of the box, which motivates the cat to get out. Thorndike observed that the cat would rub himself against the box, move around in attempt to get out.
Edward LThordike
  •  The cat would eventually push the lever to open the door in order to get the food. The cat did not learn right away the connection between the lever and escape. After a number of trials, the cat took lesser time to escape the box because he understood the association between pushing the lever and opening the door.
Thorndike's Puzzle Box
This has help to develop the Law of Effect, if a response is followed by a pleasurable consequence, it will tend to be repeated, and if followed by an unpleasant consequence, it will tend not to be repeated  
  • Nevertheless, the researcher who gave the name of Operant Conditioning was B.F. Skinner. Skinner explained, “Behavior is the result of seeking rewards and avoiding punishment”. It has the “What’s in it for me?” who represents the reinforcement concept. It is the same concept for the Thorndike’s Cat. “What’s in it for the cat?” he realized that if he pushed the lever, he will escape and receive food so her reinforces the behavior, the food would the Primary reinforcer
B. F. Skinner
  • Any reinforcer that is naturally reinforcing by meeting a basic biological need, such as hunger, thirst, or touch is a primary reinforcer. Any reinforcer that becomes reinforcing after being paired with a primary reinforcer, such as praise, tokens, or stars is a Secondary reinforcer. The elements of the Operant Conditioning are:

Positive Reinforcement: It increases the behavior by adding the stimulus

Negative Reinforcement: It increases the behavior by removing the stimulus

Positive Punishment: It decreases the behavior by adding the stimulus

Negative Punishment: It decreases the behavior by taking something away.

Reinforcement and Punishment
  • Reinforcement always leads to an increase in the behavior and punishment always leads to a decrease of behavior by application or by removal. The timing of the reinforcement can make a huge difference: The tendency for a response that is reinforced at some, but not all, correct responses to be very resistant to extinction is a Partial Reinforcement, whereas the reinforcement of each correct response is a Continuous reinforcement
  •  In a fixed Ratio schedule of reinforcement, the number of responses required to receive each reinforcer will always be the same number, but when the number of responses are different for each trial or event it is variable ratio. If the schedule of reinforcement in which the interval of time that must pass before reinforcement becomes possible were always the same, it would be a Fixed Interval. If it is different for each trial, then it is a Variable Interval.
Fixed and Variable Ratio/Interval