The influence of other people – the rewards and punishments they provide greatly impacts an individual’s behavior. The giving of rewards or punishments is a function of conditioning. Conditioning refers to how a certain behavior is elicited in response to a stimuli, Pavlov’s classical conditioning showed that learning can occur when a conditioned stimuli is paired with an unconditioned stimuli to produce the desired response (LeFrancois, 2000).
Like when you jingle your car keys and your mother immediately asks “where are you going? , your mother had associated the sound of the car keys to your going out. A variation of classical conditioning is operant conditioning wherein rewards and punishments are central concepts in the theory. It says that to strengthen a behavior it should be rewarded and to diminish an undesirable behavior it had to be punished. Rewards refer to reinforcements which have been applied to several areas in human behavior in the shaping of behavior and even used in therapy to modify behavior.
Behavior modification is a technique used to change undesirable behavior, it involves changing the consequences of behavior, eradicating the consequences that had caused the problem behavior or arranging new consequences for weak behaviors (LeFrancois, 2000). Positive reinforcement had been one of the most widely used behavior modification strategy wherein desired behavior is positively rewarded. Like when answering an online quiz and after entering the correct answer you are immediately praised and earn points.
Positive reinforcement however when not properly implemented can also have negative consequences when you also reinforce negative behaviors. Negative behaviors like aggressiveness during play time in very young children may be reinforced by the attention that he/she gets from the teacher or from the parents, hence when he/she wants to get the attention of his/her parents, he/she will hurt or quarrel with another kid.
Another instance is when a student who is suspended from class and asked to render community service in the school library that is cool and comfortable may positively reinforce his being suspended. Thus he comes to associate being suspended with being able to relax and not having to attend class. Thus, one’s behavior or the consequences of one’s action can be reinforcing to some, hence care should be taken when reacting to a negative behavior to ascertain that one is not unwillingly reinforcing negative behavior.