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Operant Conditioning

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Peter Toohey

on 22 April 2010

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Transcript of Operant Conditioning

Implementing Operant Conditioning
in an Organizational Setting Reinforcement - Reinforcement is the attempt to develop or strengthen desirable behavior by either bestowing positive consequences or withholding negative consequences Positive Reinforcement Results from the application of a positive consequence following a desirable behavior. For example, in the business community if a company offers cash incentives or bonuses that will positively reinforce the employee to work harder if they hold a high regard for monetary incentives. Negative Reinforcement Results from withdrawing a negative consequence when a desirable behavior occurs. For example, if an employee at Food Lion comes into work fifteen minutes late (undesirable behavior) then the manager at Food Lion will reduce the employee’s pay, (the negative consequence) yet will not do anything if the employee attends work on time (the desired behavior) OSBORNE'S CASE STUDY Osborne’s case study observing classroom study implemented negative reinforcement to students to see how negative reinforcement effected children with basic decision making skills .
The study observed the out of seat behavior of the students in the classroom when they were ordered to stay in their seat. The students were told to stay in their seats four hours out of the day and were not given any time for recess. This would be an example of negative reinforcement given that there would be consequences for their out of seat activity. The results showed that the students stayed in their seats, not knowing that they would actually be rewarded for staying seated for the four hours.
This study can be used to assume that more complex negative parameters set in the workplace will also lead to desired results from employees.
The adequate balance of negative and positive reinforcement specific to a particular business plan can benefit any organization. Any type of organization can look at a case study such as Osborne’s, and place the same tactics into their organization to achieve order and productivity.
Continuous Reinforcement If a behavior is reinforced every time it occurs.
An example of continuous reinforcement is if the office manager of a retail outlet sends a congratulatory note to each employee who persuades a customer to apply for a company charge card. The problem with continuous reinforcement is that it becomes a standard instead of a royalty.
Operant Conditioning Scheduling Variable Variable Ratio - applies reinforcement after a number of desired behaviors have occurred, as the number depends on the situation (slot machine)
Variable Interval-schedules are employed when desired behaviors are reinforced after varying periods of time. (praise for successful performance and promotions to higher-level positions) Fixed Fixed Ratio - applies the reinforcer after a set number of occurrences of the desired behaviors (ex. Sales commission)
Fixed Interval - desired behaviors are reinforced after set periods of time (ex. Weekly paycheck)
Punishment - in many ways the contrary of reinforcement. It is the attempt to eliminate an adverse behavior by implementing negative consequences or withholding positive consequences Negative punishment - when a person of power implements negative consequences in response to an undesirable behavior. An example in an organizational setting is if an employee is found to be treating clients in a rude manner they could be placed on two-week leave (negative consequence). Positive punishment - leader will withhold positive consequences in response to an undesirable behavior. An example in an organizational setting would be if an underachieving employee receives a smaller payment (positive consequence) at the end of the month The human response to punishment is discomfort which can be handled negatively. Punishment can have harmful effects like fear, aggression, lost performance and satisfaction and physiological consequences.
punishment only leads to a brief suppression of the undesired behavior; therefore, it needs to be carefully considered. For these reasons, punishment is not as affective as forms of reinforcement Extinction - reduction of a reinforcing stimulus for a previously reinforced behavior. The lack of a stimulus leads to a decrease in the probability in that behavior. When an employee has met a quota or sales goal (good performance) and has previously received monetary benefits or even praise, the desertion of those reinforcements would lead to reduction in motivation and results. The dangers that lie in extinction seem to be more prevalent when good performance is not reinforced rather then when poor performance is not punished because of attribution theory Extinction bursts is usually present in the early stages of extinction and is when the subject will continue the undesired behavior more frequently before the eventual decline in the behavior. A way of modifying a subjects future behavior pioneered by B.F. Skinner Used widely in the business world as a form of punishment or reward. Humans respond to positive and negative consequences.
Three Important Tools:
Reinforcement
Punishment
Extinction Conclusion n We believe that positive and negative reinforcement are better suited for the organizational setting because punishment is difficult to implement effectively and can lead to negative employee behavior, while extinction often leads to unchanged behavior because of the attribution theory. It is important for leaders to understand operant conditioning to better manage different employee characteristics. From our research, reinforcement is the best suited practice to increase results, motivation and job satisfaction. Questions?
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