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A Critical Look at the Concept of Reinforcement

3 hours, 12 minutes
2.5 BACB

“Reinforcement is a verbal operant. Our challenge is to identify which verbal operant it is at any given time.”

Hank Schlinger Jr, PhD, BCBA-D


You are reading this. That is behavior. Reading these words is again, behavior. Dr. Schlinger reflects on the definition of behavior, how important it is to understand the consequences that follow it, and thoroughly explains the operant process. Reinforcement is highlighted among these consequences, starting with Thorndike’s definition, moving into Skinner’s interpretation and analyzing the reinforcement component within several schedules of reinforcement such as NCR, DRO, DRA or DRI. Dr. Schlinger makes a special emphasis on verbal behavior and how it constitutes an essential component of the operant process, providing current articles that link verbal behavior to the basic principle of reinforcement. Actually, this description is a permanent product of verbal behavior, and if you keep reading it . . . well, one can say that your reading behavior was reinforced by verbal behavior! Let’s let Dr. Schlinger explain it better.

Learning Objectives

What you’ll learn in the course and be able to do afterward

  1. Identify the origin of reinforcement, paying special attention to Thorndike’s and Skinner’s experiments.
  2. Clearly state the current definition of reinforcement, exploring its origin.
  3. Describe the reinforcement’s status as a consequence and its value-altering effects.
  4. Describe why some operations and procedures that go by the name of reinforcement are not reinforcement.
  5. Distinguish between procedures and operations that contain a reinforcement component from those that do not.
  6. Discuss and pinpoint the issues and solutions concerning verbal behavior in behavior analysis.


This course is delivered through Florida Tech. Clicking "Enroll Now" will take you to Florida Tech’s website where you can Add to Cart, Checkout, and complete the course. Come back to our website for podcasts, blogs, courses, and content.


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