Behaviorism, or learning theory is one of three “grand theories” of human development. The focus of behaviorism is observable behavior, with no reference to mental processes. As a learning theory behaviorism, assumes that learning occurs via interactions with the environment, through the process of conditioning.
The two main forms of conditioning, are classical conditioning (learning by association), and operant condition (learning from consequences).Classical conditioning, is the learning process in which one is conditioned (learns) to respond to a neutral stimulus as if it were a meaningful stimulus. In operant conditioning, learning occurs through associations made between a behavior and the consequence that follows.
If a behavior is desirable, consequences called reinforcers are used to encourage the behavior in the future, via the process of reinforcement. Reinforcement can be positive (presenting reinforcing stimulus) or negative (removing a negative stimulus). However, if a behavior is undesired, a negative consequence can be used to discourage the behavior, through the process of either positive or negative punishment. In positive punishment, a negative consequence is presented after the undesired behavior occurs. When negative punishment it used the idea is the same “to discourage future display of undesired behavior,” but instead of presenting a negative stimulus, a desired stimulus is removed following the behavior.
Consider the following case:
Bill takes his 2-year-old son Jess to the grocery store about once a week. Jess spends most of his time with his mother because Bill is a long-haul truck driver and is home only one or two days a per week. Jess becomes unruly and difficult when he's grocery shopping with Bill. Bill has learned that a good way to get Jess to stop being difficult is to give him some candy or a donut when he starts throwing a temper tantrum.
The case of Bill and Jess is an example of operant conditioning. Jess’s tantrums are a negative stimulus, and when Bill gives him a donut or candy, the tantrum stops, thus Billy is being negatively reinforced, to repeat the behavior of giving Jess’s sweets when he displays this type of behavior. Jess on the other hand is being positively reinforced, because the consequence...