positive reinforcement; the dog has learned that the more it begs, the more treats it receives. Notice that with negative reinforcement, the target behaviors increase in order to remove an unwanted condition. Returning to our example of Jeremy Lin, how might a basketball coach use negative reinforcement to increase a behavior? Of course, the coach can’t build an electric grid in the flooring (as Skinner did with his rats) to get his players moving faster. He might, however, start each practice session by whining and complaining (a very annoying stimulus) about how slow the players are moving. But as soon as their level of activity increases, he stops his annoying behavior. The players then learn to avoid the coach’s whining and complaining simply by running faster and working harder at every practice. Thus, the removal of the annoying stimulus (whining and complaining) increases the desired behavior (running faster). Keep in mind that the goal of negative reinforcement is to increase a desired behavior. Try to remember this when you read the section on punishment. LO 10 Distinguish between primary and secondary reinforcers. Synonyms negative reinforcement omission training secondary reinforcers conditioned reinforcers PRIMARY AND SECONDARY REINFORCERS There are two major categories of reinforcers: primary and secondary. The food with which Skinner rewarded his pigeons and rats is considered a primary reinforcer (innate reinforcer), because it satisfies a biological need. Food, water, and physical contact are considered primary reinforcers (for both animals and people) because they meet essential requirements. Many of the reinforcers shaping human behavior are secondary reinforcers, which means they do not satisfy biological needs but often derive their power from their connection with primary reinforcers . Although money is not a primary reinforcer, we know from experience that it gives us access to primary reinforcers,
such as food, a safe place to live, and perhaps even the ability to attract desirable mates. Thus, money is a secondary reinforcer. The list of secondary reinforcers is long and varied, because different people find different things and activities to be reinforcing. Listening to music, washing dishes, taking a ride in your car—these would all be considered secondary reinforcers for people who enjoy doing them. Ready for a tongue twister? A reinforcer is only a reinforcer if the person receiving it finds it reinforcing. In other words, the designation of a reinforcer depends on its ability to increase a target behavior. Infectious Goodness Standing before a giant red mailbox, London postal worker Imtiyaz Chawan holds a Guinness World Records certificate. Through the Royal Mail Group’s Payroll Giving Scheme, British postal workers donated money to 975 charitable groups, setting a record for the number of charities supported by a payroll giving scheme (Guinness Book of World Records News, 2012, February 6). Charitable giving is the type of positive behavior that can spread through social networks. Many charities are now using social media for fundraising purposes.
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