Operant Conditioning Experiment

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Introduction: Learning, is a process that can be described as long lasting changes in behaviour potential that comes as a result influenced by experience. (Cherry, 2010).In order to understand human be-haviour researchers will observe the effects of the environment, conditioning, and reinforce-ment. One psychologists that is notably for his work with behaviour and learning is B.F Skin-ner. Skinner is considered to be the father of Operant Conditioning, although his work was based on Thorndike’s (1905) law of effect. Skinner added to Thorndike’s work by introduc-ing a new term into the Law of Effect - Reinforcement. Skinner also coined the term Operant conditioning. The term can be defined as a process that attempts to change behaviour by the…show more content…
The study had 2 hypotheses. Hypothesis 1 stated that during the reinforced period sniffys bar presses would greatly increase, as oppose to the number of times prior to the reinforcement. The results show that hypothesis 1 was supported. Hypothesis 2 stated that extinction will place when sniffys reinforcement is removed. This hypothesis was also supported. The findings of the current experiment share a degree of similarity with previous studies. There a number of strengths and weaknesses within the experiment that will be discussed further with reference to corresponding research. The method used for shaping sniffy was operant conditioning. This method exists in daily activities carried out by both humans and animals. In order to get sniffy to press the lever he first had to be shaped. To achieve this sniffy was rewarded for behaviour that became progressively similar to the desired behaviour. This method of response shaping has been successful in a number of studies. For example, Midgley, Lea and Kirby, (1989) focused on shaping rats to drop ball bearing down a hole in the…show more content…
The results showed that disruptive behaviour declined and studying increased when children received praise and attention. Reinforcements, similar to that in the sniffy experiments have been used in human participants to generate results. One study in particular, carried out by Garcia, Guess and Byrnes, 1973 used sweets as a reinforcer to improve the language skills of disabled children. The study was carried out, on what nowadays would be considered a vulnerable group and although the ethics of the study are questionable, the results are imperative. The Sniffy program is designed to give the researcher a first-hand experience with conditioning so that they can learn about observational techniques and operant conditioning in a more ethical manner, but because humans are complex beings, our behaviour cannot always be compared with that of a virtual rat. Sniffy is immune to emotional and physical traits that make up a human. For example human participants would grow bored and lose interest in a reinforcement if it is continued over long periods of
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