Operant conditioning, reinforcement schedules, and observational

Consider what operant conditioning principles are and how this type of learning is different than classical conditioning.


250 words 

Did you ever buy just one more item, even though you really didn’t need it, so you could get another one for free? Have you ever gambled in a casino, shopped at the mall, bought a lottery ticket, receive a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck, or shopped at KMART when the blue lights were on? If so, you were the rat who was being trained! One of the schedules of intermittent (not every time) reinforcement was being used to reinforce your behavior in the examples provided above. See if you can figure out which ones apply to each example!


For Seminar this week, you will provide your own original real life examples of each schedule of intermittent reinforcement. For clarity purposes, provide at least one real-life example for each schedule. As a reminder, the four different schedules of intermittent reinforcement are as follows:

·                   VR (Variable Ratio)

·                   VI (Variable Interval)

·                   FR (Fixed Ratio)

·                   FI (Fixed Interval)

Finally, conclude with a brief discussion of observational learning, and give an example of a time when either you, or someone you know, learned by simply observing others. Note the consequences of the behavior, and how you believe this may have helped to reinforce the behavior. Here’s an example of observational learning at work in the real word to help you started:


“I was teaching an Introduction to Psychology class when a young mother raised her hand and said that she was having some problems with her 3-year-old daughter, and she really needed my help. Basically, her daughter was misbehaving in preschool, and Mom had to go and pick her up early everyday as a result of her misbehavior. When I asked what her daughter was doing, I was shocked to hear that she was picking up chairs and throwing them at the other children and teachers. In one instance, she actually hit the teacher over the head with a chair! After some discussion, we discovered that the child’s grandmother was taking care of her daughter afterschool, and this time was spent watching WrestleMania. Grandma even was taking her granddaughter to see the wrestling matches ringside every Saturday! After this discovery, I recommended that the child’s exposure to wrestling end, and this seemed to do the trick. In a few short weeks, the young girl was able to remain in preschool without any further incident. “

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