Operant conditioning is an approach to learning that occurs through the use of positive or negative reinforcements. In this regard, the reinforcements can be classified into three categories including neutral operants, punishers, and reinforces (McLeod 21). Neutral operants refer to responses from the environment, which do not affect the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. In contrast, punishers are those responses that weaken behavior and minimize the possibility of it being repeated. On the other hand, reinforces increase the possibility of behavior being repeated and can either be positive or negative (Martin et al. 1). It is in the light of this background that this paper highlights how I intend to use operant conditioning to modify my younger brother’s behavior.
Morris is eleven years old and currently in pre-school. He likes playing a lot and spends most of his spare time either playing video games or with his peers. As a result, his school performance has begun deteriorating, since he barely has time to study or concentrate on his schoolwork. In other words, his report cards indicate a significant drop in his grades, which has been constant for the whole of this year. In this regard, I intend to use operant conditioning to help him improve his grades. That is to say; I will use positive reinforcements to encourage him to study and spend less time playing. Studies have pointed out that the use of positive reinforcements strengthen behavior by providing an incentive that individuals find rewarding, thus influencing a repeat of the same behavior in the future (McLeod 22). In this regard, I will use positive reinforcements to influence him to study.
There are various positive reinforcements that can be used to encourage good behavior. For instance, one can use financial incentives, verbal approval, or different forms of prestige to reward good behavior (McLeod 23). In this case, I intend to use praise and financial incentives to reward my younger brother whenever he performs well in class, completes his assignments on time, or scores high grades in his exams. That is to say; I will give him £5 whenever he scores more than average marks on his tests, and use verbal approval or praise when he finishes his homework on time. On the other hand, I plan on withholding some privileges such as watching TV and playing video games, whenever he performs poorly or fails to finish and submit his schoolwork on time. As a result, he is likely to associate positive reinforcements with good grades and negative reinforcements with a dismal performance, thus improving his grades.
In conclusion, operant conditioning refers to the process of transforming behavior through the use of reinforcements. In other words, persons can either use positive or negative reinforcements to encourage or discourage a particular behavior. In this regard, the reinforcements can be categorized into three groups including punishers, neutral operant, and reinforcers. Studies have shown that positive reinforcements are effective in strengthening behavior because it involves using incentives that individuals find rewarding. As a result, they are more likely to repeat a certain behavior to receive a reward. In this case, I intend to apply the operant conditioning concept to help my younger brother transform his grades. In other words, I will use positive reinforcements such as financial incentives and verbal appraisal or praise, to motivate him to study more and submit his classwork on time, thus enhancing his overall school performance.
Martin, Garry, and Joseph J. Pear. Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it. Psychology Press, 2015.
McLeod, S. A. “BF Skinner: Operant conditioning.” Retrieved September 9 (2013): 21-24.