Continuous Versus Intermittent Reinforcement

Continuous Versus Intermittent Reinforcement

Studies on reinforcement revealed that the best way for us to learn complex behaviors is via continuous reinforcement, in which the desired behavior is rewarded every time it’s performed. Consistency and timing are the keys.

Nonetheless, some argue that intermittent reinforcement is the most efficient way to maintain an already learnt behavior. It consists of giving reinforcement only some of the times that the desired behavior occurs.

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Motivational Alternatives To Punishment
  • Stopping rewards to an undesirable behavior while rewarding desirable behaviors.
  • Positively reinforcing a less preferred activity with a more preferred activities.
  • Giving a prompt, a stimulus that encourages the desired behavior. Then reinforcing any approximation to the target response; that’s called shaping. 
  • It’s behavior suppressing powers usually disappears when the threat of punishment is removed.
  • It often triggers a fight-or-flight response and renders us aggressive if escape is not an option.
  • It inhibits the ability to learn new and better responses, often leading to responses such as escape, aggression, and learned helplessness
  • Punishment also fails to show subjects what they must do and instead focuses on what not to do.
  • It is often applied unequally as we are ruled by bias in our assessment of who deserves to be punished.

Scheduling the rewards on intermittent reinforcement can be used on various schedules, each with its own degree of effectiveness and situations to which it can be appropriately applied. Some of the schedules are:

  • Fixed-ratio: used to reward based on the amount of work done.
  • Variable-ratio: are unpredictable as the amount of work done between rewards varies. This normally produces more work than any other schedule. (Varying the intervals between rewards also makes it unpredictable, but that often makes people feel unappreciated.)
  • Fixed-interval: rewards people for the time spent on a specific task. Response rates on this schedule are low as effort is not rewarded.
The Psychology Of Behavior

In trying to change a behavior, reason will take you only so far, incentives must be taken into account as well. 

In psychology, operant conditioning is a type of learning in which the strength of a behavior is modified by its consequences, such as reward or punishment. This is the predominant theory on how humans behave.

  • Rewarding the behavior immediately may take time away from the behavior’s continuation.
  • It’s cheaper not to reward every instance of a desired behavior.
  • By making the rewards unpredictable, you trigger excitement and thus get an increase in response without increasing the amount of reinforcement.
  • Since the person is already adapted to not always being rewarded, they take longer to stopping the behavior when reinforcement is removed.

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Personality Psychology: Important Terminology
  • Classical conditioning: A behavioural technique where a natural stimulus is paired with a previously neutral stimulus. The previously neutral stimulus eventually cause the response without pairing it to the natural stimulus.
  • Operant conditioning: A behaviour training technique where punishments or reinforcements influence behaviour.
  • Unconscious: The container for feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories.
  • Id: The personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy used to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires.
  • Ego: The unconscious part of the personality that moderates the id's demands, the superego, and reality.
  • Superego: The part of personality composed of our internalised ideals that comes from our parents and society.

What Personality Theories in Psychology May Tell You About Yours

verywellmind.com

Wilhelm Wundt
  • He was the first founder of the psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig which marked the official beginning of psychology as an independent science;
  • Has many beliefs and theories but was heavily misunderstood by some due to the language barrier. His student, Edward Bradford Titchener propagated many misconceptions about his works.

9 Pioneers Who Helped Mold the History of Psychology

psychcentral.com

The first views on motivation
  • At first, psychologist William James thought that only the initial act was conscious, thereafter behaviour was a spontaneous cascade of habits. He suggested we struggle with motivation when there are competing ideas.
  • Sigmund Freud theorised that we are largely unconscious of what drives our behaviour.

The Complete Guide to Motivation | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

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