Operant Conditioning in Psychology
An Example of Operant Conditioning
As a student at USC, one can assume that I’ve always taken schoolwork seriously and may even infer that I partake a considerable degree of enjoyment from it, which is by all means an accurate assumption. However, in my early childhood I was often characterized as unruly, uncooperative and impulsive in nature. At that age I had been more interested in social endeavors more so than anything relating to studying or doing schoolwork. It was always a negative issue when I brought it up in a conversation, and that assumption was reinforced through subsequent agreement amongst my peers. Coupled with negative criticism from ...view middle of the document...
The first was a transfer to a different school, and the second was a little system they set up: For every “A” I received on my next progress report I would receive $15 and for every “B” $5. While I was upset because I would not get to see any of my old friends at the new school, the second part surprised me a little. The fact that the prospective cash out for grabs was an enormous amount for a 7 year made me anticipate all the things I could do with that money. Even so, I soon forgot about it getting into the rhythms of summer vacation. Yet shortly after I began the 5th grade at the new school my parents began to pass on reminders of the cash reward. In addition to that my mom would come home on Wednesdays and Fridays to pick me up from school and help me out with schoolwork. Those two factors aided me with my schoolwork and I met with triumph as I received my first progress report which translated into $40. My parents continued to pay me until the end of the semester and then stopped, yet their praise of how well I was doing and their increased attentiveness to my schooling was enough to keep me motivated through the rest of that school year. After receiving that initial push from my parents, my motivation concerning school work began to rise. I had discovered that when I put forth a bit of effort, I could easily excel in nearly any subject. The combination of not really knowing anyone too well at that school plus the discovery that I could actually do better than most in a few subject areas kept me really focused on doing well in school. By that point, school became something that I did just for the sake of it like I would have a sport, rather than just something I “had” to do in order to avoid punishment or gain a reward. Associations like that have motivated me to excel academically and have given me the opportunity to be taking courses such as this at a University that I have great respect for.
Analysis of the Conditioning Experienced
The type of conditioning observed in this case would be Operant Conditioning, because behavior is being modified in response to reinforcements. There are several behaviors being addressed, the problematic ones classified as those that take away from time spent doing anything productive school-wise. We can narrow this down to two specific behaviors: Socializing with fellow schoolmates during and after school and watching TV at home. There are also 2 other main behaviors that occur in low frequency: Doing homework after school and studying/reviewing school materials. I will first examine the socializing behavior. This behavior functions as an inhibitor of the last two behaviors.
The social environment is very anti-school, and any behavior that abdicates school...