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Human Behavior: Conditioning Theory

Part I: Basic nature of my theoretical orientation


Inherently complicated, human behavior is a subject area that pertains to how individuals act and the reasons behind their behaviors. Without a doubt, there are an infinite number of theories related to human behavior and various sorts of behavior. (Schill, et al. 2019) Understanding human behavior is extremely essential in today’s society; this information throws light on patterns, the reasoning behind particular behaviors, and a variety of other topics of interest. Without a doubt, the greater one’s understanding of human behavior, the better one’s ability to place oneself in the world and know how others perceive, interpret and adjust to their diverse environments. For this assignment, I am going to use the theory of conditioning. Conditioning is the theory of human behavior.

Conditioning theory

Conditioning is one of the most widely accepted theories of human behavior, and it is also one of the most widely used. When someone is groomed into acting in a certain way, this is referred to as conditioning. There are two basic types of conditioning, and individual persons may be more affected by one type of conditioning than the other, depending on their personality. Training human beings to behave in a particular manner might elicit moral or moral issues, particularly when the trained behavior does not serve the best interests of the person who is being conditioned to perform. Those who believe that human beings are innately programmed to behave in one manner or another are called “programmers.”

  • Classical conditioning

It is known as classical conditioning when a person learns to correlate distinct stimuli with a variety of different outcomes. The result is that people are more likely to behave in ways that bring them delight and pleasure as a result of this method of training. For example, if someone discovers that they do better when they follow their instincts rather than obeying the rules, they are more likely to be a nonconformist and to take risks in their life. (Thaxton, 2018) A specific individual’s acts or manipulations are not always required for classical conditioning to take place. This form of conditioning can occur as a result of social conditioning or as a result of the environment that someone is regularly exposed to.

  • Operant conditioning

Simply said, operant conditioning is a method of controlling human behavior through the use of optimistic and undesirable reinforcement. A person who finds themselves in difficulty with the law regularly when they breach particular regulations will likely come to equate rule-breaking with legal problems. Similar to this, a student who frequently studies for tests and receives high marks begins to equate studying with receiving high marks. When it comes to human conduct, people tend to avoid things that cause them pain and instead gravitate toward things that bring them joy and personal satisfaction.

Basic assumptions of conditioning theory of human behavior

  • Operant conditioning

Quite simply, operant training is a methodical program of recompenses and punishments that are used to alter behavior or bring about anticipated manners. When it comes to human involvement and thinking, operant conditioning is based on two fundamental assumptions: (1) a specific act consequence in an experience that is a significance of that act, and (2) the apparent quality of an act’s significance affects future behavior Another important concept in operant conditioning is that the most important impacts on behavior are outside that is, that a person’s behavior is trained in his or her environment.

Operant conditioning is frequently mentioned in the literature on organizational management as a component of reinforcement theory and work conduct change. For example, unlike other models of administration and inspiration, operant conditioning makes no assumptions about the existence or nonexistence of attitudes, beliefs, intentions, or motivation to predict and influence behavior. (De Houwer, 2018) However, Skinner and other behaviorists do not assert that these issues do not exist. These individuals feel that environmental factors and reinforcement play an important role in the formation of these beliefs. To understand and influence behavior in the workplace, administrative management philosophers who use this method look to exterior factors the setting for guidance and inspiration. The motivation of employees is seen as a product of their work settings rather than as an intrinsic component of each worker’s psychological makeup, for example, according to this approach to management. As a result, anytime quality is reinforced through salary hikes, promotions, and other situations that employees find desirable, employees are strongly motivated.

  • Classical conditioning

Based on the concept that learning is created through interactions with the environment, classical conditioning theory is used to explain how people learn new skills. The environment also influences conduct, and internal psychological states such as notions, feelings, and feelings are inadequate to clarify human behavior on their own.

Foundations elements of conditioning theory

  • Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is characterized by four factors:

  1. a feeling of accomplishment;
  2. reinforcing the negative;
  3. punishment;
  4. extinction.
  • A feeling of accomplishment

In this element, the behavior of human beings is increased by reward. For instance, to earn more pocket money (reward/positive reinforcement), a student upsurges a specific arrangement of behavior in learning that leads to passing the examinations with advanced grades (positive reinforcement). (Gorban, 2018)

  • Reinforcing the negative

In this element, the behavior of human beings is increased by avoidance or by escape. For instance, to prevent being grounded at home, a student must increase a certain pattern of behavior in studying that will result in passing the tests with greater scores than previously (the negative event actively being avoided)

  • Punishment

in this element, the behavior of human beings is reduced by suppression. For instance, after his or her parents send him or her home, a student’s procrastination during study time decreases.

  • Extinction

On this element of extinction, the behavior of human beings is eliminated by non-reinforcement. For instance, when parents disregard a child’s attempts to fool around (and so attract attention), the child quits fooling around. There may be an initial surge in the behavior before it gradually declines and eventually fades completely. In terms of long-term reduction in undesired behaviors, extinction is more effective than punishment.

In conclusion, whether positive or negative, the pattern and frequency of reinforcement (whether positive or negative) are directly related to how quickly the behavior is learned. However, the more the dependence of behavior on reinforcement, the greater the likelihood that the behavior would be extinct.

Motivational nature of conditioning theory

Operant conditioning

The model of operant conditioning is the most straightforward of all the inspiration philosophies. The primary premise of this theory is that people will do things for which they are compensated and will avoid doing things for which they are disciplined. This concept is referred to as the “law of consequence” in some circles. Though, if this were the entirety of conditioning model, we would not be having this discussion. (Saunders, et al.2018) In addition to providing more insight than the adage “prize what you want and penalize what you don’t,” operant conditioning theory also has the potential to help managers implement more effective management methods.

According to the definition of operant conditioning, learning takes place as a result of our “working on” the environment. Whenever we “act on the environment” (for instance, when we behave in a certain way), we will experience repercussions. These ramifications impact the possibility of repeating the same behavior in the upcoming. Learning happens as a result of our actions concerning the setting. The setting then responds to our actions, and the consequences of our actions are subjective by the environment’s response.

It is believed that we learn to act in a particular way because of the significances of our earlier actions, according to the operant conditioning theory. Each stage of the learning process has three unique steps. The first stage entails the use of a stimulus (S). Any scenario or event that we see and then respond to is referred to as a stimulus. An assignment for homework serves as a stimulus. During the second stage, we engage in a response (R), which may be defined as any behavior or act we engage in response to the motivation. Staying up late to complete your homework task on deadline is an example of a reaction. Lastly, a consequence (C) is an event that happens as a result of our response and that increases or decreases the probability of the reaction occurring in the upcoming. (Saunders, et al.2018) If Colleen Sullivan receives praise from her superior for her efforts, and if getting that praise is a good involvement, Colleen will probably continue to put out her best effort in future endeavors. If, on the other hand, Colleen’s answer (working hard) is disregarded or disapproved by her superior, the result is possible to be that Colleen will escape working hard in the forthcoming. For a reply to be frequent the next time the incentive is provided, the perceived consequence (whether good or negative) must first be recognized and experienced.

General Operant Model: S → R → C

Ways to Strengthen the S → R Link

  1. S → R → C+ (Positive Reinforcement)
  2. S → R → C– (Negative Reinforcement)
  3. S → R → (no C–) (Avoidance Learning)

Ways to Weaken the S → R Link

  1. S → R → (no C) (No reinforcement)
  2. S → R → C– (Punishment)

Part II: a critical analysis of conditioning theory

Strengths of conditioning theory (operant theory)

Operant conditioning model’s strength is that it has numerous applications in culture, such as the use of token thrifts with people who have mental health difficulties; anticipated behaviors such as making eye interaction are satisfied with secondary reinforces (tokens), which can be protected up and switched for main reinforcers (e.g., treats such as an outing or a singular dinner), with the result of growing eye contact and therefore assisting to adjust social behavior for the customer.

Opponent conditioning can also clarify the persistence of fears. (Maskani, et al. 2020) For example, if an individual’s worry is decreased by evading the feared object, this avoidant behavior is ingrained and becomes more probable as a result of the negative reinforcement.

In addition, studies such as those conducted by Vaughn et al., who taught cows to urinate in the precise portion of their inclusions through recompenses, demonstrate that the significances of an action are essential in defining whether or not that action becomes more or less probable to be repeated.

Weaknesses of conditioning theory (operant theory)

Skinner’s theory of behavior observes people from the perspective of the conduct that they exhibit. In this theory, the most significant flaw is the attempt to explain the behaviors of an individual simply via the use of visible events. Behaviorists are sometimes accused of rejecting the existence of ideas and thoughts by their critics. The most significant argument against behaviorism is that it is impossible to understand a person’s behavior without taking into consideration the individual’s mental activity. Behaviorists have been criticized by some for concentrating solely on behavior while disregarding the importance of physiology, neurobiology, and genetics in the process.

In addition, many useful applications of the model have been advanced, ranging from animal teaching to human education, and in numerous cases, these requests are effective in producing a behavioral change in animals and humans alike. Behavioral operant conditioning has made a substantial contribution to the advancement of psychological theory and practice. However, as is true of most psychological theories, this hypothesis has both its advantages and its disadvantages. (Maskani, et al. 2020) Although operant conditioning has both good and negative features, it is extremely significant in the promotion of learning desirable behaviors as well as the elimination of bad habits.

Based on the research of Snowman and McCown, token economies are used to reinforce behavior. In addition to positive reinforcement, it is another sort of behavior modification method that can be utilized with children to efficiently encourage good behavior within the schoolroom environment. Formed on a financial scheme in which tokens are used to obtain anticipated reinforces, token economies are a type of economy. In the context of purchasing products that have intrinsic worth, a token is anything that has little or no inherent value but may be used to “buy” items that do have intrinsic value. Teachers will design a reinforcement menu that will include items that can be “bought” using tokens and will be distributed to students. When students engage in the targeted actions in an appropriate manner, they will receive the necessary tokens.

To what degree and how conditioning theory addresses cultural diversity

Operant conditioning theory has a high degree of application. For instance, in the workplace diversity, operant conditioning theory is used in the following ways; Behavior may be changed most easily when it results in a negative outcome, according to the behavioral theory developed by renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner. (Ashcroft, et al. 2018) When applied to the workplace, this idea can be beneficial in a variety of ways, from addressing how employees connect with customers to determining how financially successful a company is on an annual basis.

  • Productivity

Employee confidence is connected with higher efficiency in the workplace, and operant conditioning can be used to uphold high levels of both in the workstation. According to the Theory into Practice Database, positive strengthening, which is the keystone of Skinner’s theory, will cause the anticipated reply, which in the workplace will be optimal output. Positive strengthening can take the procedure of verbal praise or pay upsurges, and it will cause the anticipated reply.

  • Project teams

Teams of workers working together to attain the same objective are commonplace in many corporate ventures today. Whenever a team associate does not meet his or her separate project objectives, it has the potential to cause battle among team associates, punishment from bosses, and a loss of replication commercial from customers. Opportunistic conditioning, which involves holding all workers answerable for their activities and rewarding high-performing groups, is one technique that can be used to guarantee that projects are finished on time and within a specified financial plan.

  • Diversity

Increasing ethnic and cultural diversity is a byproduct of the globalization of the workforce, which is seen in most commercial organizations today. (Ashcroft, et al. 2018) Managers who are unable to communicate efficiently with a diverse collection of employees run the danger of alienating their assistants and, in certain cases, jeopardizing commercial relationships with international clients. To support the operant conditioning paradigm, managers should receive leadership training that will help them evade making even one error when speaking with a worldwide spectators and keep positive and, thus, creative connections with all parties convoluted.

  • Customer service

Reinforcement can happen right away in the world of customer service, such as when a customer purchases a produce. When new workers are learning a group’s client service procedure, continuous reinforcement, according to the Reference for Business Encyclopedia, can be beneficial since it can expedite the learning procedure and guarantee that the right instructions are taken at a faster rate.

Where operant conditioning is most useful

Operant conditioning is most used in the workplace and the environment around us. Consider the situation of youngsters finishing schoolwork to obtain a reward from a parental or teacher or the situation of workers completing tasks to receive tributes or promotions. Additionally, a lecturer informs students that if they uphold perfect attendance through the semester, they will not be compulsory to sit for the final comprehensive exam. Learners are negatively fortified to attend class regularly when an unpleasant stimulus (the final exam) is removed.

Furthermore, whenever you fail to turn in a plan on time, your employer will become furious and publicly disapprove your work in front of your working colleagues. (Klein, 2020) This has the effect of acting as a positive punisher, making it less likely that you will complete assignments on time in the future.

Lastly, when a teen girl nose-dives to tidy up her room as demanded, her parents remove her phone for the rest of the day. In this case, the positive stimulus has been taken away, which is an example of a form of negative punishment.

A rise in behavior is observed in some of these situations when the promise or potential of incentives is offered. Operant conditioning can also be used to decrease a behavior by either eliminating a desirable importance or applying a bad consequence to the situation. For instance, if a youngster speaks out of turn in class, the teacher may inform them that they may forfeit their recess privileges. Disruptive activities are likely to reduce as a result of the possibility of punishment.

Part III:

Unique influences of operant conditioning theory

In the usual learning environment, operant conditioning smears mostly to matters of class and student administration, rather than to education content. It is particularly applicable to developing ability performance. A basic technique to modify behavior is to deliver response on student performance, e.g., respects, approbation, inspiration, and confirmation. An adjustable ratio produces the uppermost reply rate for student’s education a new task, whereby originally reinforcement (e.g., praise) occurs at recurrent intervals, and as the performance advances reinforcement happens less regularly until finally only excellent results are reinforced.

For instance, if a teacher required to inspire pupils to answer queries in class they should admiration them for every try (irrespective of whether their response is precise) (regardless of whether their response is precise). (Amodio, 2019) Slowly the teacher will only applaud the kids when their response is precise, and over time only extraordinary solutions will be acclaimed. Unwanted behaviors, such as lateness and controlling class conversation can be eliminated through being overlooked by the teacher (rather than being reinforced by having courtesy brought to them) (rather than being reinforced by having courtesy drawn to them). This is not an informal assignment, as the teacher may seem dishonest if he/she thinks too much about the way to behave. Information about achievement is also crucial since it drives further study. But, it is vital to alter the sort of reinforcement supplied so that the conduct is sustained. This is not an easy assignment, as the teacher may seem dishonest if he/she thinks too much about the way to act.

How operant conditioning theory helps one to understand others

Operant conditioning helps me to understand others by, it explains that human behaviors are triggered by some aspects such as; positive strengthening, positive punishment, negative penalty, and negative strengthening. Humans can be inspired by what they do, for instance, the audience applauds you after you participate in a public theater production. This helps as a motivating factor, hopeful you to test for other positions.

How operant conditioning hinder the ability to understand others

Operant conditioning theory hinders the ability to understand others by, it ignores the cognitive procedures. In addition, it makes the incorrect assumption that learning occurs solely through reinforcement while supervising genetic tendencies and species-specific behavior designs that can delay with it.


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