These include variable ratio, fixed ratio, variable interval and fixed interval. For fixed ratio, reinforcement occurs after a fixed number of responses, while in variable ratio, the average number of responses may be pre-determined, but may not be followed on individual reinforcements. For fixed interval, reinforcement comes after a fixed period of time, while in variable interval, the average time is fixed but not necessarily followed on each individual reinforcement.
Operant principles can be used to bring about more appropriate behavior. These principles can be used to define the development of behaviors that operate upon the environment in order to bring about behavioral consequences in such an environment. Operant principles lead to learning which occurs when an appropriate response is demonstrated following the occurrence of a particular behavior. Thus, learning more appropriate behavior is seen to occur when there has been a noticeable change in the behavior after the delivery of the relevant instructions to a learner.
The principles of reinforcement and punishment involve positive punishment, positive reinforcement and operant conditioning. Punishment is usually applied in order to reduce the incidence of an undesirable behavior. In the concept of positive punishment, the term ‘positive’ might be confusing to some people, due to the fact that in common terms ‘positive’ means when something is good, or pleasant, or upbeat, or rewarding. The positive here is a technical terminology though, so it is meant as ‘started’ or ‘added’. It should be noted too that in this situation, it is not the individual that is being punished, but the behavior that is being tackled, in an attempt to be reduce or eliminate it.
Positive Reinforcement is one of the easiest and most effective control tools. It involves the addition or starting of