Throughout my life both my parents have used operant conditioning to teach me lessons. When I was a little, anytime I did something wrong such as talk back or not do my chores, I was always put into a time-out. I hated being put into a time-out because it isolated me and I was in a dark room not able to talk. My mom would say I needed to think about my actions to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. My dad also used operant conditioning on me when I was younger to motivate me for tennis. For example, when I was first learning how to play tennis my dad was my coach. He told me that for every game I won against him I would get $5, and for every set I won against him he would give me $50. For years I wasn’t able to win one game off of him, but it motivated me to want to get better to beat him. I went to tennis camps, academies and workouts to improve and become a great tennis player but also to beat my dad to get the money.
Attitudes can be formed through operant conditioning which is a type of learning in which rewards and punishments are used to either encourage the behavior or stop it from happening. This theory was created by B.F. Skinner who was interested in how the consequences of peoples actions influence their behavior. There are two components to operant conditioning: reinforcers and punishments. Reinforcers increase or strengthen the behavior that then follows. Whereas punishments are when an adverse event is presented which decreases the behavior that then follows (Baumeister & Bushman, 2017).
In the example above with my mom, the technique she used was negative punishment which is often used when you either present or take away a stimulus to weaken a behavior (Baumeister & Bushman, 2017). My mom wanted to focus on decreasing my undesired behavior so she punished me with a time-out to make me less likely to act that way again. She paired a negative activity for me which was being alone in a dark room left to think with my bad actions. So next time if I realize I am acting the same way I will think about the possible punishment and stop. In the situation with my dad, he used positive reinforcement. This is commonly used to incentivize people, which is the addition of a stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that it will happen again in the future (Baumeister & Bushman, 2017).
My dad added the stimulus of money following the behavior of playing good tennis to motivate me to work hard and win. If I worked hard and became a great tennis player then not only would I be a great athlete but then I could beat my dad and get my reward of $5 a game. To this day we still have this deal and the most games I have ever won off of him was four. This theory of positive reinforcement still has me motivated to work hard and get better each day so that eventually my dad will owe me $50 for beating him in a set.