When Punishment is a Reinforcer

When Punishment is a Reinforcer

Blogger: Andy Lattal, Ph.D. Punishment, by definition, reduces, weakens, or eliminates (depending on one’s theoretical bias) the responses on which it depends. But punishment also reinforces other behavior, notably that of the one administering the punishment. It does so because the behavior being punished is reduced or ceases altogether. And once the behavior of punishing is
What is Social Behavior

What is Social Behavior?

Blogger: Andy Lattal, Ph.D. In an old experiment, Boren (1966) placed two Rhesus monkeys in separate operant chambers so that the two animals were visually and aurally isolated from one another. His was an experiment on mutual reinforcement, so the schedules were arranged such that Rhesus A’s responses produced reinforcement only for Monkey B and Rhesus
Generalists and Specialists

Generalists and Specialists

Blogger: Andy Lattal, Ph.D. In a recent piece in the New York Times titled, “You Don’t Want a Child Prodigy: What ‘Roger’ Dads do Better Than Tiger Moms Ever Will” by David Epstein, the author weighs the relative merits of raising children as “specialists,” focusing on one skill at which they excel, as in musical and sports prodigies,

Complex Behavior

“Complex” has two uses in psychology. One is to describe something with a lot of “moving parts.” The other use of complex is “I don’t understand it.”

Out of Thin Air?

In speaking of the origins of operant behavior, Skinner famously observed that “[o]perant conditioning shapes behavior as a sculptor shapes a lump of clay.

Rules Rule, or Do They?

Rules are derived to guide behavior under certain conditions. Rule-governed behavior occupies a prominent place in behavior-analytic theory.
Psychologically speaking, an agent is an entity responsible for a course of action. Some psychological agents with which many of us are familiar are “personality,” “conscience,” “self,” and “stress.”
Once upon a time, there were twins named Immedium and Procrastinium. As their names might suggest, the two approached tasks very differently.

What’s Free About the Free Operant?

 Free operant originally described an experimental arrangement in which the organism could move about freely, without constraint. It was used in part to distinguish the typical operant situation from the Pavlovian or respondent, one in which the experimental animal was restrained so that the reflex could be measured more easily.