Operant Conditioning

Now, we are getting into behaviors…..
In order to understand the models we will cover, we need to know a little bit about the theory. It will make more sense when we get to CBT, ACT, DBT- promise
The topic section under this lesson has a PPT with recording

Please make sure you click on lesson content at the bottom for the voice over recording!

Reinforcement is key with behavior change
What can create a change? Is it adding something or removing something? Think about your clients……

I work with eating disorder clients. Their behaviors are reinforced by the temporary respite received when acting on them. We can reinforce a positive behavior or negative behavior. In order to help create change, we need to learn what reinforces the behavior and what can possibly extinguish it.

So how easily is a behavior reinforced? Well, it depends on the schedule of reinforcement. This also affects how easily it is to extinguish a behavior.

Best example– gambling at machines. Can you predict anything about the chances of winning? I WISH! In all seriousness, this is actually how people play more. They may win twice then lose once, win three times, and then lose five times. Will they keep playing?

  1. Continuous reinforcement involves delivering a reinforcement every time a response occurs. Learning tends to occur relatively quickly, yet the response rate is quite low. Extinction also occurs very quickly once reinforcement is halted.
  2. Fixed-ratio schedules are a type of partial reinforcement. Responses are reinforced only after a specific number of responses have occurred. This typically leads to a fairly steady response rate.
  3. Fixed-interval schedules are another form of partial reinforcement. Reinforcement occurs only after a certain interval of time has elapsed. Response rates remain fairly steady and start to increase as the reinforcement time draws near, but slow immediately after the reinforcement has been delivered.
  4. Variable-ratio schedules are also a type of partial reinforcement that involve reinforcing behavior after a varied number of responses. This leads to both a high response rate and slow extinction rates.
  5. Variable-interval schedules are the final form of partial reinforcement Skinner described. This schedule involves delivering reinforcement after a variable amount of time has elapsed. This also tends to lead to a fast response rate and slow extinction rate

So how does this apply to me?

Are you trying to faciliate new behaviors?  Are you trying to extinguish old behaviors?  Depending on your goal (treatment plan), you may need to alter the way the person is rewarded.  

For a better understanding…..

This page has several examples and a video.  Great resource 

Lesson Content
0% Complete 0/1 Steps
Skip to toolbar