Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Welcome to this week’s RBT Task list overview. Today, we will continue to discuss reinforcement by going in a little deeper to positive and negative reinforcement.

Often written as RF, we know a reinforcer is always used when you want to make a behavior stronger, so basically you want that appropriate behavior to happen more often; but what makes it positive or negative?

Let’s get started…..

What is it? Remember in elementary school, when we were first introduced to the plus sign (+) for addition and the minus sign (-) for subtraction, it works the same way in reinforcement. Those same signs, (+) and (-) were taught to us again as we went to chemistry in high school, but now the signs were called positive (+) and negative(-)

When you add (+) something to the environment to increase the likelihood of a behavior happening again in the future, its called positive reinforcement. When you take away, or subtract, something from the environment to increase the likelihood of a behavior happening again, it’s called negative reinforcement. Its that simple!

Example: Positive– Angela gives her son $1 each time he cleans the bathroom without being asked. (The $1 is added to the environment, to increase the chances that her son will continue to clean the bathroom without being asked.) Negative– Cliff enjoys eating spicy nachos at the ball game, spicy nachos have given Cliff heartburn in the past. Cliff now takes antacid to avoid getting heartburn, (Removing the heartburn, increases the likelihood that Cliff will enjoy nachos in the future) Check out this video of RF+(-)

As you study.…As you study for the exam*, see if you can identify what makes the reinforcement positive or negative by spotting what is being added or taken away from the environment to increase a behavior.


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Until next week, Happy ABAing.

P.S Go to BossLadyBLOOMS RBT Exam Tutoring to schedule a live, one on one tutoring session, each session comes with at least one free practice exam.*

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