Examples of Operant Conditioning

We can find examples of operant conditioning at work all around us. Consider the case of children completing homework to earn a reward from a parent or teacher, or employees finishing projects to receive praise or promotions. More examples of operant conditioning in action include:

  • After performing in a community theater play, you receive applause from the audience. This acts as a positive reinforcer, inspiring you to try out for more performance roles. eg:- the alienator praises the child every time they go against the targeted parent
  • You train your dog to fetch by offering him praise and a pat on the head whenever he performs the behavior correctly. This is another positive reinforcer. eg: The alienator give the child a hug when they act badly towards the targeted parent
  • A professor tells students that if they have perfect attendance all semester, then they do not have to take the final comprehensive exam. By removing an unpleasant stimulus (the final test), students are negatively reinforced to attend class regularly. eg: the alienator tells the child if you do not see the targeted parent, you can stay up all night and eat junk food.
  • If you fail to hand in a project on time, your boss becomes angry and berates your performance in front of your co-workers. This acts as a positive punisher, making it less likely that you will finish projects late in the future. eg If the alienated child says anything good about the targeted parent the alienator humiliates the alienated child in front of their siblings.
  • A teen girl does not clean up her room as she was asked, so her parents take away her phone for the rest of the day. This is an example of a negative punishment in which a positive stimulus is taken away.

In some of these examples, the promise or possibility of rewards causes an increase in behavior. Operant conditioning can also be used to decrease a behavior via the removal of a desirable outcome or the application of a negative outcome. For example, a child may be told they will lose recess privileges if they talk out of turn in class. This potential for punishment may lead to a decrease in disruptive behaviors.



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