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Chemistry LibreTexts


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  • Reinforcement


    Have you ever received a reward? A reward can be a trophy, a candy bar, even a sticker on your homework. The reason the reward was given was to reward your hard work and to elicit the same behavior again. If you were to study really hard, earn a perfect score on your psychology test, but then receive a mean note from your teacher, you may lose the desire to do well on your psychology tests. However, if your grandmother promises you money for your perfect score, you will tend to repeat these actions and strive for perfect scores on all of your tests. Can you think of times in your life that you were rewarded for something? Reinforcement is the most important part of operant conditioning.

    Elicit: To call forth or draw out.


    If every time Polly the bird speaks his owner gives him a cracker, the bird is going to want to speak again to earn another cracker. If the voluntary response (talking) is followed by reinforcement (cracker), the same voluntary response is likely to occur again. So, since Polly does want a cracker, she will talk again.

    One type of reinforcement is called primary reinforcement. . The most important would be food, water, and shelter—the basics we all need for survival. The possibility of earning one of these when you perform an action is the greatest incentive to learn.

    Primary Reinforcement Something necessary for psychological/physical survival that is used as a reward. Examples include love, food, water, and shelter

    Incentive Something that motivates.

    While we cannot live without water, food, and shelter, we do have a desire for other items in our world. One of the biggest motivators in the world is money. Many people would do some pretty insane things for money. Since you cannot eat or drink money, it is known as a secondary reinforcement.. Since money can buy food, it represents a primary reinforcer. All secondary reinforcers are used to represent primary ones. For example, you work for a paycheck (money) to purchase the groceries you need to survive.

    Secondary Reinforcement Anything that comes to represent a primary reinforcer. One example is money