¶ … mother in this case study wants to reinforce the behavior of eating peas. She is using operant conditioning, and positive reinforcement methods in particular. The term reinforcement refers to the strengthening of a desired behavioral outcome (Heffner, n.d.). However, there are many methods of reinforcement and positive reinforcement is only one. The mother would be more successful with both children if she identified methods of using negative reinforcement on the child who is not responsive to positive reinforcement.
The positive reinforcement method the mother has chosen involves rewarding the children with praise based on how many peas they have eaten. Using stickers, stars, or any other proxy to tally the number of peas is arbitrary. What matters is that the child receives praise for eating peas. Obviously one of the two children responds well to the praise, and is motivated enough by the praise to continue eating more peas. It could also be that the child actually enjoys peas, too, which could be viewed as another form of positive reinforcement....
If the food tastes pleasurable, then the child is more likely to eat it because the eating is being reinforced by both the pleasure of satisfying the taste buds and pleasing the mom.
However, the other child does not respond to the positive reinforcement. It is not that the child does not appreciate praise. Rather, the child might need negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement refers to the "removal of an unpleasant reinforcer" in ways that can strengthen the desired behavior (McLeod, 2015). The child who does not respond to the positive reinforcement might need negative reinforcement in order to change his or her behavior. A negative reinforce could be something the child does not like. For example, if the child does not like doing the dishes, the reward for eating peas could be exemption from doing the dishes that night. Perhaps the child is motivated more by the removal of unpleasant stimuli rather than by the introduction of praise and other positive stimuli.
Negative reinforcement should not be confused with a punishment, which is another way to motivate the child to eat peas. The mother could ground the child who is not eating peas, or refuse to allow video games or television until a set number of peas have been eaten. Although positive reinforcement has been shown to be the most effective means of behavioral change, other types of…
On a personal level, I have tried to condition myself with negative behavior by trying to encourage myself to lose weight by posting an unflattering picture of myself on the refrigerator, to discourage in-between meal snacking. I have to admit that this was initially motivational for me, given that the vision was so unpleasant. However, to condition one's own behavior through negative reinforcement requires a great deal of zeal for
It could be as simple as a high-five, pat on the back, praise, a kiss, or a hug. It could also be simple words and actions that could make her mom feel needed around the house since being needed gives the person a feel of being important -- a form of favorable stimulus. To strengthen the independent behavior, Dorothy may choose to remove the aversive stimulus in her mom's environment.
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