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Chris M.
Chris M., M.S.W. Social Work
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What is the difference between negative reinforcement and punishment

Resolved Question:

What is the difference between negative reinforcement and punishment? Also, explain when negative reinforcement and punishment do not result in the desired behavior change.

Alice's son Johnny takes out all his toys and does not put them back. He also does not hang up his clothes or makes his bed. He knows how to do each of these behaviors. Alice wants to teach her son to be tidy on a consistent basis. Describe how she might go about this? (Hint: use elements of operant conditioning for you answer)
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Homework
Expert:  Chris M. replied 6 years ago.

Hello, and thanks for the question.


Is there a word count requirement for the answers to these questions?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

No, there is not a word count requirement.

Expert:  Chris M. replied 6 years ago.

Negative reinforcement occurs when there is a removal of some undesired stimulus in an effort to increase the desired behavior. An example would be when a parent stops complaining after a child straightens his room regularly. Punishment is adding (positive) or removing (negative) a stimulus in an effort to reduce a behavior. Putting a child in "time out" is negative punishment. Making a child do extra chores is positive punishment.


Negative reinforcement or punishment may not have the desired results if they are applied inconsistently or at the wrong time. There should be a strong association formed between the negative reinforcement or punishment and the targeted behavior for either to work effectively. For example, when using "time out," the punishment should be applied right after the targeted behavior occurs and it should be used consistently.


Alice wants to increase the frequency of Johnny picking up after himself so she will use reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is more likely to increase a targeted behavior, because some desired stimulus is added. For example, Alice could use positive reinforcement by taking Johnny out to a movie on Saturday after he has consistently straightened up his room during the week.


Hope this helps!


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The question with Alice wanting Johnny picking up after himself, I need to use elements of operant conditioning for my answer. What are some of the operant conditioning so I can involve them with the answer?
Expert:  Chris M. replied 6 years ago.

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