ECE _ DSST Organizational Behavior

When a response to behavior is followed with

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When a response to behavior is followed with something pleasant, it is called positive reinforcement. This would describe for instance, the boss who praises an employee for a job well done. Both positive and negative reinforcement result in learning. They strengthen a response and increase the probability of repetition. Reinforcement, whether it is positive or negative, has an impressive record as a shaping tool. A continuous reinforcement schedule reinforces the desired behavior each and every time it is demonstrated. For example, in the case of someone who has historically had trouble arriving at work on time, every time he is not tardy, his manager might compliment him on his desirable behavior. In an intermittent reinforcement schedule, not every instance of the desirable behavior is reinforced, but reinforcement is given often enough to make the behavior worth repeating. This schedule can be compared to the workings of a slot machine, which people will continue to play even when they know it is adjusted to give a considerable return to the gambling house. The intermittent payoffs occur just often enough to reinforce the behavior of slipping in coins and pulling the handle. When rewards are spaced at uniform time intervals, the reinforcement schedule is of the fixed-interval type. The critical variable is time, and it is held constant . This is the predominant schedule for almost all salaried workers in North America. When a worker gets their paycheck on a weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, or other predetermined time basis, they are rewarded on a fixed-interval reinforcement schedule. If rewards are distributed in time so reinforcements are unpredictable, the schedule is of the variable-interval type. When an instructor advises her class of a number of pop quizzes given during the term (the exact number of which is unknown to the students), and the quizzes will account for 20 percent of the term grade, she is using a variable-interval schedule. Similarly, a series of randomly timed unannounced visits to a company office by the corporate audit staff is an example of a variable-interval schedule. In a fixed-ratio schedule, after a fixed or constant number of responses are given, a reward is given. For example, a piece -rate incentive plan is a fixed-ratio schedule- the employee receives a reward based on the number of work pieces generated. If the piece rate for a zipper installer in a dressmaking factory is $5 a dozen, the reinforcement is fixed to the number of zippers sewn into garments. After every dozen is sewn in, the installer has earned another $5. When the reward varies relative to the behavior of the individual, he or she is said to be reinforced on a variable-ratio schedule. Salespeople on commission are examples of individuals on a variable-ratio schedule. On some occasions, they may make a sale after only two calls on potential customers. On other occasions, they might need to make 20 or more calls to secure a sale. The reward, then, is variable in relation to the number of successful calls the salesperson makes.
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