Operant Conditioning as a Learning Process

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We all learn and process things in different ways. There are two kinds of learning processes which are operant conditioning and classical conditioning. The context will discuss and apply one of the learning processes which is operant conditioning. It is simply the change of behavior using punishments or reinforcements actions. It’s a kind of learning process that happens to every person’s life at one point that’s why I chose it in this context.

As indicated earlier, I had chosen operant conditioning over classical conditioning. The reason why I chose it is that it has really been applicable in my life and I believe it’s more common compared to classical conditioning. There are four terms related to operant conditioning. These are the examples and types of operant conditioning. I will put them in four categories and their impact on the behavior itself. There is positive reinforcement; it’s a type of an operant conditioning learning process which strengthens a certain behavior in a positive way.

To really understand that, I will give an example, in a school setup, people do exams, after exams, there are results which can be good or bad. I will take an example of a child with good results; the administration gives such a child a present so that the child can be motivated to reinforce the good grades and do the same next time or even better. That is a perfect example and a common scenario related to positive reinforcement. There is also the negative reinforcement which is confused with punishment and they are totally different.

Negative reinforcement is strengthening a behavior by either stopping or avoiding a negative result. Giving an example, a student is the same school set up reads but not because the student wants to read, it’s because he/she doesn’t want the mother to nag the whole day. Another is example happening in daily life is where a parent only allows a student to access the home WIFI password only after reading for a specific period of time. It’s like there is a certain set of condition before being given access or freedom over something. The negative reinforcement strengthens a certain behavior but weakens a certain condition.

As stated earlier, there is also the punishment aspect which is somehow confused with the negative reinforcement. It is simply a penalty for an offense in a behavior. Punishment can be categorized into two, positive and negative punishment. Positive punishment is the common type of punishment that people especially children come across every single day. It’s having a negative consequence towards a certain undesired act. It makes the act less likely to happen again.

An example is a child making noise in a class and teacher reprimands him/her in front of the class, he/she will really feel bad and the act will reduce the likelihood of the child making noise again. Negative punishment also works to reduce the likelihood of bad behavior to be repeated again by taking something very desirable away from a person. A simple example is a child confronts or abuses a game teacher and he/she is automatically removed from her/his favorite game activity. The child will make sure the act doesn’t happen again so that he/she can get another chance to join the activity.

The last but not the least type of operant conditioning is extinction. Its simply the gradual weakening of a certain behavior after the behavior becomes extinct. It’s a process it’s not a one-day thing. To understand it well, there is a certain child who gets food at 10 am every single day from the mother, later, the mother changes the strategy and does not give the food at 10 am again. The child will cry for some few days but with time the child will adapt and behavior will stop eventually.

All those aspects in operant conditioning apply in my life. Since childhood, I have been punished for not saying thank you to adults and reinforced after being the best in the class. Extinction is a common thing in me since I had adapted to being driven to school in my childhood and later when I was old enough, I was introduced to a bus and I even forgot I was once driven to school. Therefore, operant conditioning has been applicable to my real-life experience.

I will give two examples related to punishment and reinforcement which are personal and real. I had this behavior of disturbing people in class while I was very young. I used to be warned in front of the class, but it didn’t yield any fruit. The teacher came up with a good way to punish me; he embarrassed me in front of everybody in the school in the assembly. The issue wasn’t that I was embarrassed in front of the school, the teacher knew I had crushed on a girl in another class, I felt bad and the experience reduced the way I used to disturb people. It was a form of a perfect punishment for me that day.

The second example is related to my current life. I love driving so much to a point I can do anything just to drive. Then, my parents went for a trip and I was told to guard the house and no parties. Due to teen pressure, I invited few guys to our home who invited few other guys and the trend went on like that, the house was full. I wasn’t able to control people as I had planned, some things were destroyed and my parents came back and got the news from the neighbor. I was negatively reinforced that until my parents see a change in my behavior, that’s the time I will be given the opportunity to drive, I have been waiting for the feedback if I have changed till to date, I have really changed, but no feedback but I will still wait.

In conclusion, I chose operant conditioning. The reason is it was the most applicable learning process in my life and most people’s lives. Operant conditioning is an applicable learning process and everyone can recall at one point in life when it was used. It’s used daily by parents while disciplining their children. If you check my personal experience, its a similar personal experience which almost all children have been through, it’s a common scenario and that’s why I prefer operant conditioning learning process.


Cite this paper

Operant Conditioning as a Learning Process. (2021, Jun 18). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/operant-conditioning-as-a-learning-process/

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