Operant Conditioning the Term Operant Term Paper

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The rate of such behavior was considered to be significant as a measure of responsive strength (Skinner 1938, 1966, 1986; Killeen & Hall 2001). True or not, the emphasis on response rate has resulted in a scarcity of investigational work by operant conditioners on non-recurrent behavior such as movement in space.

Operant conditioning differs from other type of learning study in one important aspect. The focus has been more or less entirely on what is called 'reversible behavior', that is, behavior in which the steady-state model under a given schedule is stable, meaning that in a series of conditions, XAXBXC..., where each condition is preserved for enough days that the pattern of behavior is locally stable, behavior under schedule X shows a pattern after one or two duplications of X that is forever the same. For instance, the first time an animal is exposed to a fixed-interval schedule, after quite a few daily sessions nearly all animals show a "scalloped" pattern of responding (pattern a): a pause after each food delivery -- also called wait time or latency -- followed by responding at an hastened rate until the next food delivery. Yet, some animals illustrate slight wait time and a steady rate (pattern B). If all are now trained on some other procedure -- a variable-interval schedule, for example -- and then after numerous sessions are returned to the fixed-interval schedule, almost all the animals will revert to pattern a. Thus, pattern a is the stable pattern. Pattern B, which may persist under unchanging conditions but does not recur after one or more intervening conditions, is sometimes termed metastable (Staddon 1965). The vast majority of published studies in operant conditioning are on behavior that is stable in this sense.

Operant conditioning markedly became visible quite early in evolutionary record. It survives in the earliest vertebrates. Someone who has kept fish and he knows that they swim towards the direction of the sight or sound of him getting prepared to feed the fishes. This is called operant conditioning, for the reason that the fish gets the food more rapidly if it is nearer from them in which the food goes into the aquarium or water. Moreover fishes will learn to push response key if this consequences in food dropping into the water (Talton, Higa and Staddon, 1999-page 45). The operant conditioning of same reactions in rats, pigeons, and monkeys is well-known to each and every student in an introductory psychology lessons What is possibly not so well-known is the commonness of operant conditioning; it happens in organisms whose evolutionary paths deviate considerably from that of the vertebrates. For instance, it happens in pests, such as ants (Schneirla, 1943) and honey bees (Grossman, 1973). In view of the fact that these invertebrates have nervous systems that are quite different from those of vertebrates, there is an idea that the skill to learn all the way through operant conditioning may have evolved without help in different genetic lines. The evolutionary advantage of operant conditioning is quite obvious in a changeable environment. A place that once provided food may no longer do so; an unknown prospective prey item may turn out to give a healthy meal or an illness-producing toxin. Another strange animal may turn out to be relatively safe or a harmful predator. An animal that is to survive and pass on its genetic matter have to adjust these different situations, and learning surely allows it to do so. What may not be so sure, however, is the connection this all has to education. Physical survival does not usually depend on being able, for example, to write a commendable essay. However, the same process that enabled our ancestors to learn how to hunt efficiently can be enlisted as factor which will enable us, to learn to write effectively. Both involve small shaping steps punctuated by positive feedback. In the case of hunting, the feedback was from the physical environment (a successful kill) and from other humans (praise for performing actions that led to a successful kill). In the case of essay writing, the shaping steps and feedback is from the teacher, who incidentally has been operantly conditioned to provide this feedback.

Nowadays operant conditioning is being commonly used in setting up clinical settings (i.e. modifying the behavior) teaching (i.e. managing the class room) and instructional progress (e. Operant conditioning has been widely applied in clinical settings (i.e., behavior modification) as well as teaching (i.e., classroom management) and instructional development (i.e. organized instructions). Operant behavior is the behavior which is controlled or managed by its consequences.


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Talton, L.E., Higa, J.J., & Staddon, J.E.R. (1999). Interval schedule performance in the goldfish Carassius auratus. BP, 45, 193.

STADDON JE. (1965). SOME PROPERTIES of SPACED RESPONDING in PIGEONS. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 8, 19-27.

Sandy S. Venneman, Laura Ruth Knowles. (2005) Sniffing Out Efficacy: Sniffy Lite, a Virtual Animal Lab. Teaching of Psychology 32:1, 66-68

O'Donohue, W.T., & Ferguson, K.E. (2001). The psychology of B.F. Skinner. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.

Skinner, B.F. (1953). Science and human behavior. New York: Macmillan.

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