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Module 1: Condicionamento operante

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Operante (instrumental) condicionamento

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Psychology -> Operant (instrumental) conditioning


Operant (instrumental) conditioning

Operant conditioning is learning where the consequence is dependent on the organism's response. The consequence then influences the likelihood of the behaviour occurring. Skinner studied hungry rats in specially designed 'skinner' boxes. These boxes were equipped with a lever which, when pressed, dispensed food or water. Skinner would place a hungry rat in the box. Eventually the rat would accidentally press the lever and a food pellet would fall. Each time it accidentally pressed the lever, food would be dispensed. The rat then learned that each time it pressed the lever it would be rewarded with a food pellet; thus; it would constantly press the lever. Other Skinner boxes were equipped with electric shocks to punish the animal for certain responses. In this way, Skinner developed his theory of operant conditioning where he believed that our behaviour operates on the environment and that our behaviour is instrumental in producing the consequences (rewards and punishments).

An example of a skinner box

Burrhis Frederic Skinner (1904-1990)

Operant response - a response or behaviour of an organism that is voluntary and not associated with a particular stimulus. This response acts on or modifies the environment. For example, e.g. a person picking up a book to read.

Reinforcer - the reward given for a response in order to strengthen it and increase the likelihood of the response occurring again.

Positive reinforcer - a reward which strengthens a response by providing a pleasurable consequence such as praise or a chocolate bar.

Negative reinforcer - a reward which strengthens a response by removing or reducing an unpleasant stimulus such as taking away a house chore or homework.