Learning Review Answers:

Identify the behavior that is the focus of the conditioning and if positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, response cost, or extinction is being demonstrated.

  1. Until she was 8, Barbara liked cats. When she was 8 she was bitten through the hand by a cat as she tried to get it out from under a bed. This was an upsetting experience. Since that time, Barbara experiences anxiety whenever she is near a cat.  Because of that, she no longer visits her grandmother who owns 12 cats.  The behavior of avoiding her grandmother's house has been reinforced through positive or negative reinforcement?
    Negative reinforcement.  Every time she avoids her grandmother's house, her anxiety is removed.  That removal of anxiety increases the likelihood of her avoiding her grandmother's in the future. 

  2. Alison, four, needs to learn to speak up louder in class. Her parents and teacher agree that whenever Alison speaks up loudly in class she will get a star on her chart. Whenever she accumulates 25 stars, she will get to go to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. Alison starts speaking up in class more frequently.
    Behavior = Speaking up; Positive reinforcement is the consequence.

  3. Jimmy, age 13, is late coming home—again. His parents take away his generous allowance for 2 weeks hoping to reduce his late behavior.
    Behavior = Being late; Response cost is the consequence.

  4. Tom is hammering nails into planks to build a fence. He experiments with holding the nail a different way and immediately hits his thumb with the hammer. OUCH! He continues his work, but he never holds the nail that way again.
    Operant conditioning
    Behavior = holding nail in new position; (Positive) punishment is the consequence

In the following examples (#1 - 7), identify which is being used to control behavior:

a.    positive reinforcement

b.    negative reinforcement

c.    (positive) punishment

d.    (negative punishment) response cost

e.    extinction

  1. The smoke detector in Jesse's house is low on batteries. It emits an annoying chirp every few seconds. Jesse installs a new battery so it will stop making that noise.
    Negative reinforcement (for behavior of changing battery)

  2. Dr. Smith, a Doe College instructor, is having difficulty getting students to turn in papers. Previously he had not assigned credit for homework; he had simply assumed that students would do it for the practice. Dr. Smith establishes a policy that all students who turn in papers will get full credit for their work. Students now turn in papers much more often.
    Positive reinforcement (for behavior of turning in papers)

  3. Robert puts $0.55 in the Coke machine to buy his daily Coke. Today, nothing comes out, and he does not get his money back. Robert does not put any more money in the machine.
    Extinction (nothing was given or taken away except the reinforcer (Coke) that normally appears after the behavior (depositing money)).

  4. Jeff is playing with his food at the dinner table while his parents are trying to carry on an adult conversation. When his mother notices what Jeff is doing, she stops talking with her husband and directs her attention to Jeff. She yells at him to stop playing with his food, and says that playing with his food is a horrible and disgusting habit. Jeff plays his food again several times during that meal, and even more frequently the next night.
    Positive reinforcement (for playing-with-food behavior.)  It's reinforcement because the behavior increased.

  5. Jeff is playing with his food at the dinner table. His mother tells him to stop playing with his food; when he does not stop, she takes his food away, leaving Jeff hungry all night. Jeff never plays with his food again.
    Response cost (or negative punishment) (for
    playing-with-food behavior.)

  6. George is diligently working on an art project at school. His teacher notices how nicely he is working and praises him loudly for his efforts. George immediately seems less interested working on his project. The teacher praises the little bits he completes as time goes on, and George stops working on the art project entirely.
    Positive) punishment (of artistic behavior)-- remember it's based on whether the behavior increases or decreases (and this behavior decreased)
  7. A dog is in a cage with an electrified floor. When the shock comes on in one half of the cage, the dog can jump a low wall to get to the shock-free half of the cage. Jumping the wall is being reinforced by

a.    positive reinforcement

b.    negative reinforcement

c.    response cost

d.    (positive) punishment



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