Spike here, I’ve been hearing alot from my 2-legged pals about positive training and operant conditioning these days. I hate to say they aren’t thinking right but most of the talk is based on twisting scientific definitions to reflect the popular definitions of these words.
In the science world operant conditioning a set of principles that describe how an animal learns to survive in its environment through reinforcement (consequences). This is learning in which behaviors are altered by the consequences that follow them. If your dog “sits” and you give him praise, he’ll be more likely to repeat the behavior “sit”. On the other hand, if the dog “sits” and is knocked in the head, it will be less likely to repeat the behavior. These responses were operantly conditioned. B.F. “Fred” Skinner first coined the term in 1938 in this book The Behavior of Organisms.
Some key concepts in operant conditioning: The terms positive and negative are not used in their popular sense, but rather: positive refers to addition, and negative refers to subtraction.
Reinforcement is any event that strengthens or increases the behavior it follows. There are two kinds of reinforcers: Positive reinforcers are favorable events or outcomes that are presented after the behavior. In situations that reflect positive reinforcement, a response or behavior is strengthened by the addition of something, such as praise or a direct reward. Negative reinforcers involve the removal of an unfavorable events or outcomes after the display of a behavior. In these situations, a response is strengthened by the removal of something considered unpleasant. In both of these cases of reinforcement, the behavior increases.
Punishment, on the other hand, is the presentation of an adverse event or outcome that causes a decrease in the behavior it follows. There are two kinds of punishment: Positive punishment, sometimes referred to as punishment by application, involves the presentation of an unfavorable event or outcome in order to weaken the response it follows. Negative punishment, also known as punishment by removal, occurs when an favorable event or outcome is removed after a behavior occurs. In both of these cases of punishment, the behavior decreases.
So when you hear about positive training or the evils of punishment I hope you’ll remember my blog.
Have a good one, SPIKE