Positive Reinforcement and Negative Reinforcement

rbt exam review positive and negative reinforcement applied behavior analysis

What are Positive Reinforcement and Negative Reinforcement in Applied Behavior Analysis?

Reinforcement is a  principle of behavior change. All behavior change plans should begin with a careful consideration of how to use reinforcement properly. Reinforcement occurs when a response is followed by a stimulus change (a consequence) that results in similar responses occurring more often in the future. Positive reinforcement involves adding or increasing a stimulus, while negative reinforcement involves removing or decreasing a stimulus. The key things to remember about reinforcement are: 1) it always increases future occurrences of behavior 2) reinforcement should be used if you are using punishment or extinction 3) reinforcement is a consequence.

Why is Reinforcement Important?

Reinforcement is a fundamental principle in applied behavior analysis and is essential in promoting desired behaviors. When a behavior is followed by a reinforcing stimulus, it is more likely to occur again in the future. Reinforcement can be used to teach new skills, improve performance, and teach replacement behaviors for behaviors that are decreased. Reinforcement can be used across settings: classrooms, clinics, homes, and the public environment.

What are the Two Types of Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement involves adding or increasing a stimulus after a behavior occurs. For example, a child’s independent play can be reinforced when it increases as a result of their parent giving praise and attention when they play. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to increase desired behaviors and can be used to teach new skills.

Negative reinforcement involves removing or decreasing a stimulus after a behavior occurs. When a behavior occurs more often because past responses have resulted in the withdrawal or termination of a stimulus, the operation is called negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is characterized by escape or avoidance contingencies. For example, jumping out of the shower when the water suddenly becomes too hot is negatively reinforced by escape from the burning water. Negative reinforcement always increases behavior.

Common Misconceptions About Negative Reinforcement

The concept of negative reinforcement, traditionally, is used to describe a consequence which decreases future behavior, as in confusing negative reinforcement with a punishment procedure. This traditional idea of negative reinforcement is one of the more difficult ideas to unlearn. Much of the confusion can be traced to the inconsistent early history and development of the term. Negative reinforcement should not be confused with punishment. Just remember, reinforcement increases behavior and punishment decreases behavior always.

How to Use Reinforcement to Promote and Increase Desired Behaviors

Reinforcement is an effective tool for promoting desired target behaviors. Once a behavior is established with reinforcement, you can begin fading your reinforcement, or reducing the amount of reinforcement the learner receives when engaging in the target response. This is considered fading a reinforcement schedule. Reinforcement schedules can be used to maintain behavior over time. For example, a fixed-ratio schedule involves reinforcing a behavior after a set number of responses, while a variable-ratio schedule involves reinforcing a behavior after a variable number of responses.

Summarizing Negative and Positive Reinforcement in ABA

Reinforcement is a powerful tool for behavior change and should be used in all behavior change programs to increase target behaviors and teach replacement behavior. Positive reinforcement involves adding or increasing a stimulus, while negative reinforcement involves removing or decreasing a stimulus. Negative reinforcement should not be confused with punishment. Reinforcement can be used to teach new skills, improve performance, and reduce problem behaviors. Understanding the principles of reinforcement is crucial in behavior analysis and can lead to effective behavior change programs.

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