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William G. Huitt
Educational Psychology Interactive
Last rev: June 2012
Operant Conditioning
The study of the
of consequences
on
Ivanimpact
Pavlov—Russian
scientist
voluntary behavior.
trained in biology and medicine
The addition and/or subtraction of
Studied digestive system in dogs
consequences is done according to different
schedules
• Continuous
• Intermittent
Schedules of Consequences
Continuous reinforcement – the target
behavior is followed by a consequence each
time it occurs.
• Excellent for getting new behavior started that
you want to increase.
• Behavior stops quickly when reinforcement
stops.
• The schedule of choice for
decreasing behavior.
Schedules of Consequences
Intermittent schedules based on either
• Passage of time
OR
• Number of correct responses
Schedules of Consequences
Consequence can be delivered based on
• A fixed amount of time or number of
correct responses
OR
• A slightly different amount of time or
number of correct responses that vary
around a particular number
Schedules of Consequences
This results in four classes of intermittent
schedules.
Fixed Interval
• consequence is given or removed when
the first target response is emitted after a
set amount of time has passed.
• The time period required is always the
same.
• Example: Spelling test every Friday.
Schedules of Consequences
Pattern of behavior for fixed interval schedule
Schedules of Consequences
This results in four classes of intermittent
schedules.
Variable Interval
• Consequence is given or removed when
the first target response is emitted after a
set amount of time has passed.
• A time period is then set with the average
equaling a specific number.
• Example: Pop quiz.
Schedules of Consequences
Pattern of behavior for variable interval schedule
Schedules of Consequences
This results in four classes of intermittent
schedules.
Fixed Ratio
• Consequence is given or removed when a
specified number of target responses have
been emitted.
• A number of required target behaviors
stays the same.
• Example: 10 math problems for
homework.
Schedules of Consequences
Pattern of behavior for fixed interval schedule
Schedules of Consequences
This results in four classes of intermittent
schedules.
Variable Ratio
• Consequence is given or removed when a
specified number of target responses have
been emitted.
• The number of required target behaviors
changes around an average.
• Example: students raises hand to be called
upon.
Schedules of Consequences
Pattern of behavior for fixed interval schedule
Operant Conditioning
Learn more about applying concepts and
principles of behavioral approach to modify
behavior.
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