chapter  16
9 Pages

Learning Negative reinforcement and positive punishment. James V.McConnell An objective and functional matrix for introducing concepts of reinforcement and punishment. 216

WithStephen R. Flora, William B. Pavlik

There probably is no concept more difficult to teach to introductory students than that of negative reinforcement (Tauber, 1988). There are at least four reasons why this is so: (a) the surplus meaning carried by such terms as negative and punishment; (b) the fact that Skinner (1938, 1953) described two types of reinforcement (positive and negative), but only one type of punishment; (c) the tendency that most students have to perceive reinforcement and punishment in terms of their effects on the organism’s emotions rather than on overt behaviors; and (d) Skinner’s (1938, 1953) habit of using the words reinforcement and punishment in at least two different ways. Finding a more effective way to teach the concept of negative reinforcement requires resolving all four problems.