Reinforcement, Punishment, and Extinction


  • Positive reinforcement (R+): Something is ADDED to INCREASE the future likelihood of a behavior. For example, giving a child his favorite toy after

  • Negative reinforcement (R-): Something is REMOVED to INCREASE the future likelihood of a behavior. For example, in the forced retrieve (not a clicker technique), a dog’s ear is pinched to force him to open his mouth to take the dumbbell. When the dog opens his mouth — the desired behavior — the ear pinch is released. He is more likely to open his mouth for the dumbbell in the future.

  • Positive punishment (P+): something is ADDED to DECREASE the future likelihood of a behavior. For example, a student is given more homework when he is caught talking to other students in the class during a lecture. The addition (+) of homework decreases (P) the likelihood that the student will engage in the behavior in the future.

  • Negative punishment (P-): something is REMOVED to DECREASE the future likelihood of a behavior. For example, a dog jumps on you to get attention. When he jumps, you turn away, removing your attention. He is less likely to jump for attention.

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