Operant conditioning, also referred to as instrumental conditioning, was first described by psychologist B.F. Skinner.
Think about this for a minute ... how did we learn to behave the way in which we do? How did we learn that a particular behavior is good behavior and some other behavior is bad? Our parents and the society taught us, yes? But what were the tools that were used for driving the behavior home?
According to psychologist B.F. Skinner, the way in which we behave is influenced and learned by drawing an association between the way in which we behave and the consequences that our behavior leads to. This learning of behavior is termed operant conditioning, and is an integral subject in the study of behavioral psychology.
In the following sections, we will use certain operant conditioning examples to help make the concept clearer.
Operant conditioning is the process of learning behavioral patterns which are based on certain stimuli from the environment, such that, external stimuli lead to certain behavior. A human being knows the kind of consequences that a particular behavior will lead to, and therefore, to either encourage or discourage that consequence, he will behave in a particular way. This concept can be further explained by breaking it down into 4 sub-parts.
Positive reinforcement occurs when a particular behavior strengthens or increases in the hope of experiencing a positive action or behavior.
In this form, a particular behavior strengthens or increases in the hope that a negative consequence can be avoided.
In this concept, a particular behavior pattern decreases so as to avoid dealing with something unpleasant after.
In this, a particular behavior pattern decreases so that a positive stimulus or object is not taken away or removed.
While positive and negative reinforcement help in increasing or strengthening a particular behavior, positive and negative punishment help in decreasing or discouraging it.
There are certain operant conditioning behavior examples in the classroom as well as in a home set up that you can observe in children. Here are a few examples.
Learning behavior through operant conditioning does not stop at childhood; in fact, it continues throughout a person's life. Here are some examples.
These operant conditioning examples show us a pattern which dictates that most behavior patterns that we learn are not merely as a result of our thoughts and conscience, but due to the fact that there are negative and positive stimuli in the environment that influence the way in which we act and behave.