Specific Application of Negative Reinforcement:

Dorothy could also use negative reinforcement to encourage her mothers effort at becoming more independent. For example, if Dorothys mother strongly dislikes the type of music that Dorothy listens to at home, Dorothy could immediately turn off her music to reward her mother for every instance in which she came downstairs from her bedroom.

Just as in the case of positive reinforcement, the removal of a stimulus perceived by the subject as unpleasant, (such as rock music), this form of negative reward would work whether or not Dorothy provided the reward in conjunction with and explicit acknowledging that it was a specific reward for her mothers efforts.

Likewise, just as in the case of positive reward, the negative reward would probably work much faster if Dorothy does acknowledge that her extra consideration of her mothers likes and dislikes corresponds directly to her appreciating her mothers effort to comply with Dorothys request that she spend less time in her bedroom.

On the other hand, there may also be a downside to explicit awareness of the relationship between the desired behavior and reward on the part of the subject that may have to be considered when choosing whether or not to acknowledge the dynamic.

Unlike non-human animal subjects, human subjects could be insulted or resent being manipulated in such an overt way. Depending on other factors, such as her temperament and relationship with Dorothy, her mother could refuse to cooperate as a result of Dorothys disclosing the reward system. To the extent that is a concern, Dorothy might prefer to achieve slower results by never acknowledging the system if the alternative is likely to be insulting her mother or inspiring reduced compliance instead of behavioral improvement on her mothers part. Conclusion:

Reinforcement is a powerful operant conditioning tool for shaping desired conduct in subjects. Both positive reward and negative rewards achieve similar results, primarily because, from the perspective of the subject, both are perceived as desirable changes. Positive reward consists of providing a stimulus appreciated by the subject, while negative reward consists of removing or decreasing a stimulus perceived by the subject as unpleasant. Both forms of reward are more successful in conjunction with awareness of the subject, but that awareness also has the capacity to undermine the goal of the reward where that understanding contributes to resentment or perceived insult..


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