What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Because it does not include any kind of unpleasant measures or punishment, positive reinforcement is the recommended technique of discipline in the positive parenting approach. However, the results of using this strategy are not always what we would expect. Let’s find out what positive reinforcement is, some of the ways it may be used in daily life, and the most effective approach to use it.

How Positive Reinforcement Works

The purpose of positive reinforcement in operant conditioning is to encourage the desired behavior by providing an uplifting stimulus immediately after the occurrence of that action. Someone is being rewarded for what they have done, and this award motivates them to continue doing what they have been doing.

The stimulus that reinforces behavior is known as a positive reinforcer. A positive reinforcement is something that a person typically appreciates or favors, as a result of which it might drive that person to continue engaging in the desired action.

The propensity of a person to take on a new behavior is increased over time by the use of positive reinforcement. This kind of conditioning has gained favor over other forms of operant conditioning because it produces a pleasant learning atmosphere, which is appreciated by both parents and instructors in the classroom. This setting allows for better retention of information.

The Perspective of Positive Reinforcement

The practice of rewarding desirable or pleasurable behavior with a stimulus after it has been shown is known as positive reinforcement. The presence of the favorable stimulus serves as a reinforcement for the activity, which increases the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Positive parenting is a method that exploits on the good behaviors that are already being exhibited by the individual you are working on training, rewarding the natural leanings towards good behavior in the individual.

Skinner and Reinforcements

The premise upon which Skinner’s model of operant conditioning is founded is that the best method to understand and control behavior is to investigate both the causes of behavior and the effects of the behavior. This theory originated from Thorndike’s “law of effect,” which specified that a behavior is more likely to be repeated if it is followed by pleasant or desirable consequences, whereas behavior that is followed by unwelcome consequences is less likely to be repeated. This idea led to the development of this theory.

positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment are the four forms of reward and punishment that are used in the operant conditioning theory developed by S.F. Skinner.

Punishment makes use of consequences in order to discourage a behavior, in contrast to positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, which utilize consequences in order to promote behavior. When you want to discourage certain conduct, you may use either positive or negative punishment. Positive punishment is when you provide an unpleasant stimulus, while negative punishment is when you remove a positive stimulus.

Positive and Negative Reinforcement

The question now is, how does negative reinforcement differ from positive reinforcement? In the field of mindset, positive and negative reinforcement do not always correspond to differences in the quality of the reinforcers. Instead, positively indicates that a stimulus is being added, while negative indicates that a stimulus is being subtracted.

A beneficial stimulus is included in the process of positive reinforcement, which increases the likelihood that a reaction will be repeated. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to suppose that positive might also relate to the nature of the reinforcement or the activity that is intended to be the objective of the reinforcement.

However, this is not the case. The terms “positive” and “negative” allude to the simple question of whether a stimulus or consequence is being added (the positive technique) or taken away (the negative approach) (negative).

Types of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement may be further classified into four different forms. It is in addition to the four training techniques that are on the principle of operant conditioning. The kind of positive stimulus, a reinforcer, that is what distinguishes these four subtypes from one another.

The following are the four categories of reinforcers:

  1. Natural reinforcers are those that come about as a direct consequence of the action being that has a reward (e.g., a student lessons hard and does well on her exams leads to good grades).
  2. Token reinforcers are those that a subject receives as a reward for engaging in particular behaviors. And kids can trade tokens for other things of value. (e.g., parents develop a recompence arrangement in which the kid earns stars, points or some other token. It is that they can add up and turn in for a reward).
  3. Social reinforcers are each time another person, such as a teacher, parent, or employer, demonstrates their satisfaction with a person’s conduct (for example, by saying “Good job!” or “Excellent work!”).
  4. Reinforcers that are true physical or tangible benefits are referred to as “tangible” reinforcers (e.g., cash, toys, treats).

The environment in which a reinforcer has a noteworthy impact on how effective the reinforcer is. Natural reinforcers are often strong, but social reinforcers are also capable of exerting a significant amount of influence. For working with children, tokens are often more effective than physical reinforcers, which are vital when teaching canines new behaviors.

Positive Reinforcement and Kids

When it comes to getting young progenies to behave, parents often turn to positive reinforcement as a tool. This is particularly true of parents who engage in the practice of positive parenting. These methods of disciplinary action are widely popular since they are straightforward. They are also transparent and create effects that you can anticipate. First, you must do this, and then you will have that. There is no ambiguity, and the conclusion is not surprising.

When parents use positive reinforcement, they often see benefits quickly. The intended reaction has the potential to become automatic very fast. This strategy helps parents feel better about the way they are raising their children. They have the option of using gratifying reinforcers rather than unpleasant penalties. Because there are no irate children to contend with, everyone who participates can take pleasure in the activity.

Positive Reinforcement During Teaching

Numerous educators make use of positive reinforcement as one of the strategies they use in their classrooms to regulate or alter the problematic behavior of their pupils. The use of behavior charts in the classroom is a common practice. It is that may have a positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcers such as points or tokens are added to a pupil’s chart. It is whenever the learner demonstrates conduct that is suitable or satisfactory. When the pupils’ point totals reach a certain threshold. They will have the opportunity to trade those points in for a modest prize.

The removal of punishment is an improvement that both the children and the instructors appreciate. Because there is less of a power struggle and because pupils are more responsive. It is a positive reinforcement, this strategy provides outstanding outcomes in an educational environment.

Reinforcement vs. Punishment

In most cases, it is preferable to use positive reinforcement rather than negative punishment. Although it may be effective in the short term in preventing inappropriate conduct, the penalty does not educate what constitutes proper behavior. By providing a reward for appropriate conduct, positive reinforcement helps direct a person’s attention to that behavior.

positive reinforcement

When training dogs to do tricks, for instance, using food as motivation is incredibly effective. Elementary school instructors who provide children with gold stars when their homework is on time. It shows good benefits in the kids’ level of motivation.

Reinforcement Schedules

The frequency of reinforcement applications, as well as the period that passes between each one, is outlined in the schedules of reinforcement. Repeated exposure to positive reinforcement is necessary for the formation of new habits. In addition to the continuous reinforcement plan. Intermittent reinforcement programs can break down into the following four categories:

  1. The interval between reinforcements is constant and is a fixed interval.
  2. Definite ratio, which corresponds to a fixed number of times
  3. Changeable interval – variable time period
  4. The ratio is changeable, and the number of times it changes is also varied.

The order in which you give the reinforcement have a considerable impact on how well it works. For instance, at casinos, the awards that are  by slot machines are completely random. The fact that gamblers sometimes win has favorable reinforcement by varying ratio schedules. Which is one of the factors that contributes to the game’s extremely addictive nature.

Is It Worth It?

As you may have guessed from the instances that were given before, positive reinforcement is effective. Dog trainers give their dogs tasty goodies for a good reason: it is an exceedingly efficient way to encourage the behaviors that the trainers want to see from their dogs. In a similar vein, both parents and teachers have discovered that providing children with positive reinforcement may be a very powerful tool in the process of educating children to behave in an acceptable manner.

The use of positive reinforcement makes it more probable that the person will repeat the action. Yet, the question remains as to how much more likely it is that the behavior will have repetition.

It is important to provide the desirable stimulus as quickly as possible after the behavior is there. The more time that passes between the performance and the recompence, the weaker the connection is. And the greater the likelihood it becomes that some intervening behavior will occur. You may accidentally reinforce it . This is dependent on a number of different features. But the most vital thing is to provide the desirable stimulus as quickly as possible. It is after the desired behavior is under performance.

Advantages of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement has a number of advantages. Positive reinforcement is a kind of training that does not require taking something away or creating a negative consequence. As a result, many people find it to be less difficult to accept than other forms of training.

Because it is far simpler to reinforce desirable actions than it is to discourage undesirable ones, reinforcement is generally a more effective strategy than punishment in most contexts. Perhaps most importantly, studies have shown that positive reinforcement is just more effective, particularly over the course of a longer period of time. Learning that is by favorable thoughts and connections increases the likelihood. It is that the information will be for longer time. Even after the reinforcement schedule is complete(more on that later).

Positive Reinforcement in Work

Both intrinsic rewards (such as praise, encouragement, and empowerment) and extrinsic rewards (such as salary, bonus, and fringe benefits) were effective motivators and positively correlated with the efficiency and effectiveness of employees, according to a recent study that examined the use of positive reinforcement in organizations. This study provided further evidence that this method is an effective one for employees.

Conversely, positive reinforcement is useful in both increasing the possibility of desired behavior and encouraging enthusiasm, engagement. Also, satisfaction among staff members. Punishment can be an effective tool for cultivating efficiency and efficacy. But it often has the shortcoming of reducing morale. On the other hand, positive reinforcement is effective in encouraging enthusiasm, engagement, and satisfaction among staff members.

Using Positive Reinforcement

Verbal praise, opposite to material incentives like gifts or allowances, may be there to combat the issue of rewards. It s undermining an individual’s intrinsic drive.

Not only should compliments be there on the end product, but also on the steps taken to get there. Try not to merely say “Good work” and instead be more detailed. If the youngster helped take out the garbage, you could want to give them praise by saying something like, “Thank you!” You did an excellent job of wrapping the garbage up in such a way that it was lovely and tight.

In conclusion, rather than rewarding a kid with more attention when they misbehave, it is more effective to do so when they act well in order to reinforce positive conduct. When a kid receives sufficient attention from their parents via consistent interactions with them throughout the day, they won’t feel the need to act out in order to obtain their attention.


There are advantages to using a child’s preferred activities as positive reinforcers in order to inspire the child’s conduct, but there are also disadvantages. Parents who have successfully potty teach their children over the course of a weekend. It is by handing out sweets can speak to the efficacy of positive reinforcement when in the proper manner.

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