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Behaviorism / Skinner conditioning

EyeSeeCold

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#1
Is anyone here an expert of behaviorism / operant conditioning?


http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html

B.F. Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly changing of behavior by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. Skinner identified three types of responses or operant that can follow behavior.

  • Neutral operants: responses from the environment that neither increase nor decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.
  • Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or negative.
  • Punishers: Response from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.


Punishment is considered to be a means of stopping a behavior(aversion therapy), yet in receiving a strong unpleasant stimulus isn't it more likely that a subject would form a fixative relationship with the unpleasant object? The experience could make a psychological imprint that could cause PTSD or subconscious side-effects.

Depending on the circumstances, aversion therapy seems it could do more harm than good, especially considering development of hostile behavior toward the punishment-giver.
 
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#2
Oh man I am not an expert on the subject but I love to talk about it. Studied it in school to the most advanced undergraduate level.

So you're talking specifically about "positive punishment".

Interesting thought on the "fixative relationship".

You would be most correct in your final inference, that it "does more harm than good".

These behaviorism studies were intensely scientific in their time. I recall that one important conclusion is that "NCR" (i.e. non-contingent reinforcement) schedules are actually the most effective at behaviour modification, if you believe it.
 
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#3
It's important, fist off, in any discussion on operant conditioning, to get this info out in the open:

The words positive and negative have no emotive value in this context. They purely represent either the addition or removal of the operant conditioner (i.e. appetitive ((reinforcement)) or aversive((punishment)))
 

scorpiomover

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#4
Not an expert. But I use the theory all the time. Love it. Explains so much about how people work.
 
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#5
Seems to me this "behaviorism" is set to change people's behavior from the outside in rather than the inside out. Psychoanalysis goes from the inside out and seems the opposite.
 
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#6
Seems to me this "behaviorism" is set to change people's behavior from the outside in rather than the inside out. Psychoanalysis goes from the inside out and seems the opposite.

Weak proposition.

This "behaviourism" is set to objectify the ways our mechanisms of behaviour change with experience, and this we call "learning".

You're tending towards Watson with your criticisms but we're talking Skinner.
 

Hadoblado

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#7
I'm no expert, but I can't name anything about it I don't understand :D

Is this just a discussion thread? I guess it's a fairly useful theory if you haven't covered it before, though its limitations are glaring.

Behaviourism was a profoundly useful foundation for modern psychology, a lot of people don't realise just how progressive it was.

Now that I think about it, I don't really know much about aversion therapy. My understanding is that anything that has substantial potential to cause lasting harm won't make it past the ethics board. The aversion is generally caused by something undesirable but unalarming, such as a foul taste or some nausea. It can potentially cause people to associate positive feeling derived from their target behaviour with the punishment intended to inhibit it. For example, this could cause someone to begin liking the taste of the nail polish that was intended to prevent nail chewing.

What sort of objects do you have in mind when you talk about fixative relationships ESC? I can't think of any examples of aversion therapy that has had the impact you describe.
 

BloodCountess88

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#8
I'm studying to become a behaviorist (I did training in ABA therapy).

Aversion therapy can be used to achiever certain goals: for example, weight loss and quitting smoking, stop chewing on fingernails, ect.

It thrives in the our basic survival instinct: Don't eat bitter or bad tasting stuff, if something is unpleasant you are less likely to do it, if something is causing pain, you re less likely to do it.

Now, while this can be a very useful tactic on changing behavior (child doesn't like time outs, associate certain behavior with the unpleasantness of a time out will reduce the behavior if there in no other environmental positive or negative reinforcers), ABA focuses in skinner's positive reinforcement. The issue is, people with autism don't make such connections and often self harm and want to be in a time out, using it as a escape behavior to avoid the unpleasant stimulation/activity/expectation. Therefore, there is absolutely no use of it on someone who is on the spectrum.

Adverse therapy is positive punishment, therefore if someone has social-emotional issues can easily turn into PTSD and be even perceived as abuse. In "theory" it helps develop coping mechanisms. However Baer, Wolf and Risley's research (along with all of the information gathered by Lovaas) has shown that coping mechanism are developed quicker when a subject is allowed to feel comfortable and has a sense of control.


behaviorism of effective in dealing with concrete behaviors, not emotions. Now if you were to get into ABA, it blankets SPD/environmental factors and recognizes triggers on top of targeting a specific behavior.

Basically, Montressor is correct. NCR is more effective and has now been shown effective in multiple studies.
 
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#9
"Punishment is considered to be a means of stopping a behavior(aversion therapy), yet in receiving a strong unpleasant stimulus isn't it more likely that a subject would form a fixative relationship with the unpleasant object?"
I think the subject definitely would form a fixative relationship with the unpleasant object. thats part of the goal. And Yes it could cause PTSD if the aversion occurs combined with adrenaline, or some other brain chemicals I don't have the list of off the top of my head. Aversion should be done in a non-threatening way (cold water from a squirt gun or other clearly non-life threatening aversion should be safe. Think discomfort, not fear. )

BUT, behavior is a positive activity regulated separately from negative avoidance. Things that require action to make happen use dopamaine re-inforcement of behavior to build and re-enforce neural paths connecting triggers with behaviors that lead to rewards. There's separate brain chemicals and pathways for aversion (not much I know about them) but the practice of aversion therapy relies on attaching a negative association to either the trigger, the behavior, or the reward which then interrupts the re-enforcing of the behavior. Once the trigger + behavior + reward cycle stops for any reason the behavior pathways slowly fade (lose salience) without maintenance re-enforcement experiences.

The good research on dopamine re-enfocement and behavioral aversion therapy seems to be available from internet pron addiction websites such as http://yourbrainonporn.com/intermittent-excessive-behaviors
 
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#10
Basically, Montresor is correct. NCR is more effective and has now been shown effective in multiple studies.

:king-twitter:


:D:D:D

Ok. that's over.


Note this tidbit: proper administration of positive punishment (as discussed) requires an unconditional stimulus that is powerfully aversive. It is administered with enough intensity that one only needs to see a single trial for learning to occur. Any other use of the tactic is abusive!

i.e. If you're going to hit your kids/dog, fucking hit them once and hard.
 

EyeSeeCold

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#11
I'm not familiar with NCR, anyone willing to elaborate?

I meant a fixative psychological relationship toward the pain or the person administering the pain, especially in the case of parenting, and also in corporal punishment and unwilling treatments(mental hospitals for example but I don't know which are now outdated practices); the fixation would be PTSD/hostility. I suppose aversive therapy through mildly unpleasant sensations and associations would be different though.

Is there any clear idea of a "best method"? Or does it depend on the goal? Considering the multiple ways a person can learn (to stop) behaviors, it just seems generally inefficient to only focus on punishment as a means to cultivate discipline in one's children. This also extends to prisoners though with most of the emphasis being on imprisonment, then you have the atmosphere of the prisons themselves having behavioral influences on the prisoners.

With SteveW-in-SanFrancisco's post, I wonder about the long term application of a limited approach and the chemical dominance leading to particular lifestyle temperaments. Positive reinforcement seems to cultivate ambition in that it motivates a person towards doing something, while for example in negative punishment a person learns to deal with less which is related to self-denial and avarice.
 

Hadoblado

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#12
I

Is there any clear idea of a "best method"? Or does it depend on the goal? Considering the multiple ways a person can learn (to stop) behaviors, it just seems generally inefficient to only focus on punishment as a means to cultivate discipline in one's children. This also extends to prisoners though with most of the emphasis being on imprisonment, then you have the atmosphere of the prisons themselves having behavioral influences on the prisoners.
It depends entirely on your goals.

If someone is using only punishment, they are doing it wrong. For children, you are not only trying to stop them becoming deviants, but to have them grow into a successful person (success being deliberately undefined). It requires more reinforcement than anything else, both positive and negative.

With prisoners, you are not only trying to rehabilitate. You are protecting society, giving the people a sense of justice, deterring crimes (both by the individual in question and others, and rehabilitating them. Unfortunately, the people in charge seem to put the emphasis on retribution and protection of society, and less on deterrence and rehabilitation.
 
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#13
Few things to add:

Considering the multiple ways a person can learn (to stop) behaviors, it just seems generally inefficient to only focus on punishment as a means to cultivate discipline in one's children.
Yes. This is why we point to NCR.

What is NCR?

Non-contingent reinforcement. Administering reinforcement (appetitive stimuli) randomly (totally randomly), regardless of target behaviour (desirable or not).

In practice: If you give a dog 0-3 treats every day, he will become a better dog, even if you sometimes give him a treat when he is "being bad".


negative punishment
Somewhat of an archaic term, meaning the removal of a reinforcer from a situation thus leading to a less pleasurable state.

I have been told this term is totally replaced by "omission training", of course with a new definition.

Kind of like prison in one sense.

I suppose aversive therapy through mildly unpleasant sensations and associations would be different though.
This is what I was getting at before. It's been scientifically shown in this field that the most effective positive punishment is swift, hard, loud, and not pleasant.
 

BloodCountess88

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#14
Somewhat of an archaic term, meaning the removal of a reinforcer from a situation thus leading to a less pleasurable state.

I have been told this term is totally replaced by "omission training", of course with a new definition.
ABA still targets it as negative punishment, at least that's the terminology they use.

In fact, NCR + negative punishment is often a place to start when it comes to introducing ABA principles to someone. A type 1 or 2 reinforcement often used in a series of trials to teach certain skill (type 3 are the ultimate goal, which is verbal praise).

In practice: Use food (like candy, mostly M&M's as type 1) or toys (as type 2) to lure a child to a table. If child sits, give reinforcers (if toy, give 1-2 minutes than take away).

Reason: appropriate sitting is a positive behavior, therefore should be rewarded. See, shaping.

Afterwards, give command (and there is a specific technique to it), prompt if command is not followed (no,no,show), give reinforcement if command is followed. repeat X amount of time, transition into a different activity.

Yes, the thing about aversion therapy is that you need to do it once, and HARD, often when they aren't expecting it, IMMEDIATELY after the behavior and without making a sound or expression. And that's what often parent's who spank don't understand, unless you are going to spank for ONE specific reason (not every time they do something wrong, for children under 5 is nearly impossible to generalize at that level) and do it once, without yelling (at all, monotone voice) and hitting hard and RIGHT away (as the child is still biting you) you aren't targeting the behavior, but reinforcing it.


There are multiple studies on pitch, yelling and praising have a high pitch, which often means yelling is a positive reinforcement. So if spanking is not done with exactly like AT tells you to (so spanking 3 times after you yell at a kid, while lecturing him, 3 minutes after he bit you or after he did a mess which is incorrectly) you are reinforcing the behavior.


This principles are amplified with a person in the ASD spectrum.


Note that behaviorism at it's principles go against MBTI, think if it as nature vs nurture: behaviorism believes in environmental factors that contribute to such behaviors, and gives tools to modify by giving coping mechanisms. While MBTI believe in nature over nurture in spite of environmental factors.

I hope I'm making some sense. :confused:. Bottom line though if I'm not mistaken Skinner actually didn't encourage the use of averse therapy. He didn't use punishment, at all, only the positive and negative reinforcement, Skinner's box is a perfect example of the use of his methods. Averse therapy is also electroshock therapy, which Skinner was against.

It depends entirely on your goals.

If someone is using only punishment, they are doing it wrong. For children, you are not only trying to stop them becoming deviants, but to have them grow into a successful person (success being deliberately undefined). It requires more reinforcement than anything else, both positive and negative.
I would argue that what you really need to do is show expected/desired behavior by praise. How are they going to know what's expected if you are only targeting the negative behavior? They learn what NOT to do, but there is not guidance for desired behavior, nor replacement for the undesired behavior. That's why most behavioral therapy focuses on positive reinforcement and redirection/transitioning.

The place I did training ignored negative behavior completely. They would not even look at a child when throwing a tantrum, and would not address them until they were calm. Then addressed the problem.
 
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