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PSYCH305: The Psychology of Learning and Behavior

Unit 8: B.F. Skinner's Operant Conditioning   We will now turn to a deeper look at a second type of conditioning: operant conditioning.    This unit will focus on the work of B. F. Skinner and his brand of operant conditioning, where an organism encounters a specific consequence after performing a behavior and is therefore either more or less likely to perform that behavior in the future.   B. F. Skinners work and research was largely focused on humans and translated well into interventions designed for classrooms and parenting. 

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit will take 6 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 2.0 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 2.0 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.4: 1.5 hours 

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Define the characteristics of reinforcement in terms of behaviors and consequences.
  • Define the difference between positive and negative reinforcement.
  • Explain the process of extinction in operant conditioning and discuss how it differs from extinction in classical conditioning.

8.1 Punishment and Reinforcement   - Reading: University of Northern Illinois’ “Operant Conditioning” Link: University of Northern Illinois’ "Operant Conditioning" (HTML)
 
Instructions: This article provides a nice overview of the differences between reinforcement and punishment. There are a number of great real-world examples. In addition, this site has a nice set of references to previously addressed topics.
 
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8.2 Conditioning and Learning   - Reading: University of Western Michigan’s “Psy 514: Conditioning and Learning” Link: University of Western Michigan’s “Psy 514: Conditioning and Learning” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the text in its entirety.  This is a very intensive piece and may take several readings to understand.
 
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8.3 Understanding Discrimination   - Web Media: YouTube: Western Michigan University: Mary Tollas’s “Discriminative Stimulus Experiment” Link: YouTube: Western Michigan University: Mary Tollas’s "Discriminative Stimulus Experiment" (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Please view this brief 1:30 minute video.
 
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8.4 Extinction in Operant Conditioning   - Web Media: YouTube: LisbethPlant’s “Cassie helps with Laundry Notice Extinction Burst Pushes” Link: YouTube: LisbethPlant’s “Cassie helps with Laundry Notice Extinction Burst Pushes” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Please watch the entire video.
 
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  • Reading: Shippensburg University: C. George Boeree’s “B.F. Skinner” Link: Shippensburg University: C. George Boeree’s “B.F. Skinner” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this entire webpage for a very good overview of Skinner and his theoretical bases. It also serves as an introduction to the topics of punishment and schedules of reinforcement, which we will come to in future units in much greater detail.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the page above.