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we know that social learning theory and operant conditioning are quite
effective with cats and dogs, but people I am not so sure-:) Kidding.
Seriously, I also feel that it can be effective with people as with animals if
consistent. The key is consistency, especially with children. As for our
students in the classroom yes positive reinforcement works but negative does
nothing. Punishment works well because if students know they are penalised
with their grade, usually desired behaviour results. France

===== Original Message From Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
<[log in to unmask]> =====
>Greetings LRNASSTers!
>
>Taking a guess that Gary Probst was serious and not attmepting satire,
>I'll try my hand at responding to his questions.  It is obvious though, that
>several of the questions would require much more than the limited space of
>an email to answer sufficiently.
>
>> Gary Probst is thinking:
>
>>   1. Are some people unable to be changed by positive reinforcement?
>
>According to Reinforcement THEORY, most people's behaviors can be modified
>by positively reinforcing a desired behavior.  My personal belief
>is that if one understands the variables involved in a particular case,
>and if one understands reinforcement theory, one stands a pretty good
>chance of modifying another person's behavior -- if the other person sees
>value in the modification.  High valence is essential to a *sustained*
>behavior mod, I believe.
>
>>   2. For those people who are unable to learn from positive reinforcement
>>       changed or behavior stopped by negative reinforcement?
>
>Eh? What?  If you are asking if one can use EITHER positive or negative
>reinforcement to modify behavior, the answer is yes and no.  It depends on
>the variables involved.
>
>It is very important to note that NEGATIVE reinforcement and punishment
>are two very different concepts.  Negative reinforcement is the ABSENCE of
>reinforcement.  PUNISHMENT is the imposition of an undesirable outcome in
>response to an undesirable behavior.
>
>>   3. Can knowledge of negative reinforcement prevent the need for positive
>> reinforcement?
>
>Do you want a term paper here, or a one-liner? (grin)  This is an
>excellent question; I would suggest that knowledge and/or expectation of
>PUNISHMENT (not neg.reinforcement) might mitigate the need for positive
>reinforcement, but chances are that you will only be able to extinguish
>OLD behaviors, and not promote NEW, desirable ones. Behavior that isn't
>rewarded (true negative reinforcement), or is punished, is less likely to
>be repeated.
>
>One uses pos. and neg. reinforcment, and punishment, for different
>reasons.
>
>On the other hand, if you truly mean NEGATIVE reinforcement (ignoring
>behavior) in your question and not punishment, I would posit that the
>answer would probably be "no."
>
>I have always thought that when using reinforcement theory, one should
>approach a desired state by considering that there are really TWO
>behaviors that one needs to contend with: The undesirable behavior (UB)
>and the desired behavior (DB).  Often people only consider eradicating
>neg. behaviors and rewarding pos. behaviors; treating those behaviors in
>isolation.
>
>If I want you to close my car door without slamming it, slamming the car
>door is an UB of yours that I want to modify.  I can approach the problem by
>focusing ONLY on the UB and attempting to modify it, which would be dealing
>with the UB in isolation.  If I choose the strategy of negative
>reinforcement and ignore the behavior, the behavior in this example would
>probably persist.  If I say "Please don't slam the door," and then throw
>my arms up in surprise and clap my hands over my ears each time you slam
>it, I am dealing with the UB by attempting to modify it with punishment.
>
>OR
>
>I can show you a new behavior (DB) and positively reinforce that
>(i.e. "I would appreciate it if you wouldn't slam my car door.  Slamming
>it has a tendency to loosen the hinges and reduce the airtight
>quality of the cab. Just roll the window down a bit and it will close real
>easily.  Like this.  Thanks!"); thereby extinguishing the old behavior
>(UB) WITHOUT punishment, AND simultaeneously establishing a new behavior (DB)
>and rewarding you when you exhibit it. Ergo, we are treating TWO behaviors
>instead of just one.  This approach should maximize the potential for
>reaching the desired outcome.
>
>>   4. What should you do with people who cannot learn from either positive
or
>> negative reinforcement?<
>
>I believe that people DO and CAN learn from appropriate and
>correct application of reinforcement theory.  Perhaps a more appropriate
>question might be "Is the behavior change permanent or
>temporary in relation to the type of reinforcement employed?"
>
>>   5.  Which causes learning to take place faster negative or positive
>> reinforcement?
>
>It depends on the circumstances.
>
>
>>   6.  If you do not know what type of reinforcement is a person's
>> reinforcement style, what type should you use first?<
>
>I don't believe that people have a particular "reinforcement style".
>Which reinforcement approach one would use would depend more on the
>circumstances than any particular characteristics of the individual.
>
>>7. What type of reinforcement is remembered for a longest period of
>time?<
>
>Generally speaking, if a desirable behavior (DB) is positively reinforced
>using an appropriate schedule of reward, the DB should be repeated.  The
>frequency with which the DB is exhibited should be in proportion to the
>level of percieved valence by the participant.
>
>Generally speaking, if an undesirable behavior (UB) is negatively
>reinforced (ignored) the UB MAY be extinguished.  In which case, there is
>only a temporary need for this memory; although lack of repitition of the
>UB may persist, the memory may not.
>
>Generally speaking, if an UB is punished (P) it may or may not be
>"remembered" depending upon the relationships between:
>
>* the severity of the punishment
>* the appropriateness of the use of punishment in this case
>* the need for the punishment to be "remembered"
>
>The level of recidivism of a behavior after reinforcement theory and
>behavior modification have been applied depends upon the appropriateness
>of the approach and the circumstances surrounding the case (the
>participant's perceived need to allow his or her behavior to be modified,
>percieved value of the reward, organizational culture and structure, need
>for the behavior to be modified as in student violence in the classroom,
>etc., etc., etc.).
>
>DESIRED OUTCOMES as reasons for behavior mod. are also deciding
>factors. Many folks suggest that reinforcing or treating an UB that
>produces fear will only last (be "remembered") as long as necessary.
>However, if you track me down and permanently tie my right arm behind my
>back as punishment for typing a wrong answer on this test, I will remember
the
>reason for only having one remaining arm, forever.  But, did the punishment
>equate to the UB?  Would the punishment cause me to give correct answers
>in the future?  Did the relationship between the type of punishment and
>the UB, and the choice of punishment (P) as a reinforcer equate to the
>Desired Outcome you hoped to accomplish?
>
>Enough already.  I get the distinct impression that you are toying with
>us, Gary.  If so, then I have just inflicted significant punishment on
>myself for not seeing the trap and consequently answering the
>questions (UB) and I will be very reluctant to answer such questions again
>(modified behavior).  I won't be angry, but I'll be chagrined and may
>even chuckle about it.  But -- I will have learned not to be so eager to
answer
>such questions; an important lesson. (grin)
>
>If you were truly curious, Gary, then I hope this is more helpful than it
>is confusing.
>
>Pat Schutz

Je pense, donc, je suis, Rene Descarte
Chacun ont deux pays et un de ils est France, Benjamin Franklin
vive la France