Negative Reinforcement Example Psychology Personal Statement

Behaviorism is a school of psychology that studies that only behavior that can be observed or measured. It does not include the study of emotions or motives.

Behaviorism Examples

Scholars in the field of behaviorism say that psychology should focus on the actual behaviors of people rather than the behaviors that cannot be observed such as thoughts, moods, and emotions. Two of the main writers and developers of behaviorism were psychologists John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner. 

Positive Reinforcement

  • Parents often use a reward system when potty training a toddler. M&M candies, stickers, or other small rewards can be used. Each time a child does a desirable behavior – for example, sitting on the potty, having a dry diaper in the morning, or going to the bathroom on the potty – the parent gives the child a reward. The hope is that the child will continue to exhibit the desired behavior because he or she wants to earn the reward, until eventually the behavior becomes a habit. 
  • Companies offer raises to employees who exhibit excellent performances. The hope of a raise can serve as motivation for employees to do their jobs well. 
  • Four-year-old Emma has a chore chart that includes such behaviors as making her bed, getting dressed, brushing her teeth, and taking her breakfast plate to the sink. If she completes her chores, she earns a sticker on her chore chart. Once she has five stickers, she gets to pick what the family will have for dessert. 
  • Mrs. Smith’s second grade class is behaving poorly. She decides to develop a behavior management system for her students in the hope that it will motivate them to behave better. At the end of each hour, if the students have followed the rules at an acceptable level, Mrs. Smith puts a tally mark on the board. At the end of the day, if there are more than five tally marks, Mrs. Smith draws a star on the board. Once ten stars have been drawn, the class will get a pizza party. She hopes that the incentive of a pizza party will motivate them to follow the rules.

Negative Reinforcement

  • If a high school student is late to school more than three times in a marking period, he or she will earn a detention and have to stay after school. School officials hope that the possibility of having to serve time in detention will encourage students to come to school on time. 
  • Sarah is in the habit of speeding on her way to work. One morning, she gets stopped by a police officer and given a $275 speeding ticket. After that, she never speeds again; the negative consequence to her behavior of speeding causes her to obey the speed limit, since she never wants to get a speeding ticket again. 
  • Student-athletes are required to maintain at least a grade of a C in every class in order to participate in their various sports. If a grade drops below a C, the athlete will not be allowed to compete until he or she improves the grade. The negative reinforcement of not being allowed to compete often motives a student to quickly do what is needed to improve his or her grade. 

These examples of positive and negative reinforcement are also examples of behaviorism in action. 

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Examples of Behaviorism

By YourDictionary

Behaviorism is a school of psychology that studies that only behavior that can be observed or measured. It does not include the study of emotions or motives.

Reinforcement, unlike punishment, refers to the concept of Operant Conditioning, which deals with increasing the rate of behavior. Stimulus involved in the process of reinforcement is called reinforcer.

A reinforcer can be pretty much anything ranging from biologically important things such as food, water, sex, which can also be termed as primary reinforcers, and secondary reinforcers such as praise, electric shock, and so on.

Reinforcement can be further classified into Positive Reinforcementand Negative Reinforcementbased on the kind of stimuli used to increase the rate of operant. We have made an effort to introduce the concept of Negative Reinforcementin this article.


Negative reinforcement increases the probability that an operant will occur when reinforcers (negative) are applied. Simply put, negative reinforcement is the stimuli that strengthen responses that permit an organism to avoid or escape from their presence. The stimulus or reinforcer causes the frequency of operant to increase, as it terminates or removes the undesired responses.

Skinner’s experimentonOperant conditioningcan also be taken as a reference to further understand the concept of reinforcements. B.F. Skinner used Skinner box to conduct various experiments on a rat and used various reinforcers to support his theory on operant conditioning.

On one of the experiment conducted by Skinner, he placed a rat inside the box. The rat was then placed inside the chamber, similar to the experiment conducted by the professor, where he used positive reinforcement to support his theory on operant conditioning.

Here, instead of keeping the rat hungry, he

  • Subjected the chamber to an unpleasant current.
  • Having experienced the shock, the rat started to desperately move around the box until it finally knocked a lever by accident.
  • Pressing of the lever immediately seized the flow of unpleasant current.
  • After a few times, the rat had smartened enough to go directly to the lever in order to prevent itself from the discomfort.

The electric current is the negative reinforcer here, which led the rat to press the lever again and again. This shows that the negative reinforcer in the experiment succeeded in leading the rat to increase its response (of pressing the lever).


  • An employee fails to meet the deadline, and he is made to come to work even on Sundays. The employee then works harder from next month in order to avoid having to go to work on Sundays.

  • A student fails in class, and he is made to attend summer school. The action then motivates the student to work harder in future in order to avoid similar consequence.

Examples mentioned here can be easily understood. Here, the extra work day and the summer school are negative reinforcers, which cause both the employee and the student to work harder.

Is Negative Reinforcer Effective?

Negative reinforcer has been found to be remarkably effective in most cases. Negative reinforcements have been found to be effective learning solutions in people of all ages and gender. The reinforcement technique is applied mostly in case of difficult students and teenagers in practical life.

As effective as they are, there are certain factors that come into play when it comes to complete success of the method. It has been found that the procedure is most effective when it is applied immediately and consistently after each behavior. Additionally, the amount of enthusiasm and frequency tend to impact on the success rate of the procedure.

The connection between the reinforcement and the behavior is another major factor that influences success rate of negative reinforcement. If the connection is strong, then the chances of the individual repeating the task grows higher and vice versa.The short interval of time between a behavior and the presentation of negative information strengthens the connection. In other words, negative reinforcement need to be presented instantly.

Filed Under: Reinforcement Punishment


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