Last Updated 08 May 2020

Operant Conditioning

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Operant conditioning refers to the process through which a subject is compelled to adopting a new behavior through rewards and punishments. These rewards and punishments are collectively referred to as reinforcements. The major processes in operant conditioning include the extinction, discrimination, and shaping. These processes involve activities where only selected behaviors are followed by reinforcement. The resultant behavior determines whether reinforcement to be given will be a positive or negative.

Extinction process is exhibited when punishment does not happen as a result of a given behavior. This follows some acts of acclimatization where an organism is made to adapt to a new environment. The discrimination process involves the presentation of a given stimulus even earlier than the occurrence of a given behavior (Boeree, 2006). This is always intended to create a given set of a precondition. Shaping process is intended at bringing new forms of behaviors by use of positive reinforce elements. Such would fall in the class of training an organism on how to act to get a given response. Read also about 

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Shaping g involves the application of both positive and negative reinforcements. Positive reinforcements acts by encouraging while negative reinforcements acts by discouraging a given form of behavior. Self reinforcement occurs when a person tries to control his personal behavior. In self regulation people understands suitable and unsuitable behaviors (Omrod, 1999). Self regulation follows a desire to act in accordance with the suitable behaviors and thereby avoiding unsuitable behavior. Skinner’s work involved the adaptation to a given set of behavior.

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The act of self-regulation therefore aims at achieving the desired behavior through learning and character modeling. Self regulation is part of reinforcing self from other acts by making logical judgments.


Boeree, C. G (2006). Personality Theories: Skinner B. F. (1904-1990) retrieved on 27 July 2010 from http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/skinner. html

Omrod, J. E. (1999). Human Learning 3rd ed Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall retrieved from http://teachnet. edb. utexas. edu/~lynda_abbott/social. html

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