Four Types of Contingencies

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement consists of the presentation of a stimulus (one that is usually considered pleasant or rewarding) following a response, which then leads to an increase in the future strength of that response. (lecture notes from Theories)

An example of positive reinforcement is if you were to smile at a person on the street and they return a smile to you.

  • Immediate Versus Delayed Reinforcements are the more immediate the reinforcers, the stronger its effect on the actual behavior.
  • A primary reinforcer (unconditioned reinforcer) is an event that is innately reinforcing or something we are born to like rather than something we have to learn to like.
  • A secondary reinforcer (unconditioned reinforcer) is an event that is reinforcing because it has been associated with some other reinforcer. In other words, one has learned to like because they have become associated with, such as name brand clothing or fancy high dollar cars.
  • Intrinsic reinforcement is reinforcement provided by the mere act of performing the behavior.
    • example: people workout/exercise because it is invigorating
  • Extrinsic reinforcement is the reinforcement provided by some consequence that is external to the behavior.
    • example: doing this assignment because my grade depends on it
  • Natural reinforcers are reinforcers that are provided for a certain behavior, and are always an intrinsic reinforcer.
  • Artificial reinforcers have been set in motion on purpose to adjust behaviors. Can either be intrinsic or extrinsic reinforcers.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is the removal of a stimulus (one that is usually considered unpleasant or aversive) following a response that then leads to an increase in the future strength of that response. (lecture notes from theories)

  • Involves two types of behavior: escape and avoidance:
    • Escape behavior results in the termination of an aversive stimulus.
    • Avoidance behavior occurs before the aversive stimulus is presented and therefore prevents its delivery.
      • making an instrumental response in order to prevent the occurrence¬†of an aversive stimulus.

An example of negative reinforcement is if it starts to rain while one is walking down the street, they open an umbrella to escape the rain. The rain is being taken out of the situation; therefore, the behavior has been increased.

Positive Punishment

Positive punishment consists of the presentation of a stimulus (one that is usually considered unpleasant or aversive) following a response, which then leads to a decrease in the future strength of that response. (lecture notes from Theories)
An instance of positive punishment is when a person swats at a bee or wasp, they get stung, therefore decreasing the behavior.

Negative Punishment

Negative punishment consists of the removal of a stimulus (one threat is usually considered pleasant or rewarding) following a response, which then leads to a decrease in the future strength of that response. (lecture notes from Theories)

An example of negative punishment would be if a toddler/child were playing with their food, instead of eating, they would in return not get dessert for that behavior.