Sociology Index


Operant conditioning is the basic process by which an individual's behavior is shaped by Reinforcement, or by Punishment. In Psychology, operant is an item of behavior held not to be a response to a prior stimulus but something initially spontaneous. Implications for therapies and treatments using classical conditioning differ from operant conditioning. B. F. Skinner pioneered the idea of operant conditioning. Skinner invented a box, in which he placed a hungry rat. Skinner's box demonstrated the shaping of behaviors through operant conditioning. Inside the box, the rat was presented with levers and lights. The rat soon learned that pressing one of the levers would deliver a piece of food. The rat also learned that food would not be delivered when the light was off.

Teachers and Operant Conditioning - Frey, Sherman. Abstract: A survey was conducted of 406 elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers to determine their understanding, acceptance, and use of the principle of operant conditioning. Subjects reported that:

a) they believed that the nature of the interaction between students and teachers is an influencing factor in student achievement;

b) they were familiar with the principle of operant conditioning;

c) they understood the principle of operant conditioning but they had not decided about accepting it as a principle for governing behavior; and

d) they felt that operant conditioning may be used to control the behavior of groups as well as individuals and that the managing of behavior is ethical within the context of the operant model. Subjects' indecisiveness about operant conditioning is reflected in the reporting of its usage in their classrooms: 126 use the technique, 116 do not, and 164 gave no response to the question.

The problem of generalization in the operant conditioning of social speech in the severely subnormal. Use of reversal to establish generalizability - ES Barton. Many severely subnormal patients talk little to each other. In this experiment, three pairs of subjects were reinforced for talking to each other, and learned to do so quite quickly.

Utilization of an Operant Conditioning Model for the Treatment of Character and Behavior Disorders in a Military Setting - ARTHUR D. COLMAN and STEWART L. BAKER JR. The operant conditioning model was applied to a ward program for delinquent military recruits diagnosed as having character and behavior disorders.

Operant Conditioning in Skinnerbots - David S. Touretzky, Lisa M. Saksida, Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA - Adaptive Behavior, Vol. 5, (1997) - Instrumental or operant conditioning, a form of animal learning, is similar to reinforcement learning (Watkins, 1989) in that it allows an agent to adapt its actions to gain maximally from the environment while being rewarded only for correct performance.

Operant Conditioning of a .300 Hitter? - The Effects of Reinforcement on the Offensive Efficiency of a Barnstorming Baseball Team - William L. Heward.
Nine members of a professional touring baseball team served as subjects in an experiment to test the effects of reinforcement on individual and team offensive production. A new baseball statistic, the Efficiency Average (EA), was developed and recorded as the dependent variable.

Operant Conditioning in a Vietnamese Mental Hospital 
Operant conditioning was applied in the special circumstances of a Vietnamese mental hospital with a largely untreated and idle patient population. Results demonstrated the effectiveness of this technique for motivating patients to resume productive activity.

EasyChild Report: Working With Children Through Operant Conditioning Learning.
Abstract: EasyChild is a behavior modification software system designed to encourage children to succeed in life. Why does EasyChild work? Because it is based on how children learn: Operant Conditioning, where a proper response is the outcome of certain stimuli, such as rewards. However, current talk therapy and counseling espouses that Operant Conditioning may not be an important child raising theory, but that is an anachronism. Research indicates that Operant Conditioning is one of the few approaches to working with children, with and without special needs, that has efficacy.