Reinforcement - Schedules


When an animal's surroundings are controlled, its behavior patterns after reinforcement become predictable, even for very complex behavior patterns. A schedule of reinforcement is a rule or program that determines how and when the occurrence of a response will be followed by the delivery of the reinforcer, and extinction, in which no response is reinforced. Schedules of reinforcement influence how an instrumental response is learned and how it is maintained by reinforcement. Between these extremes is intermittent or partial reinforcement where only some responses are reinforced.

Specific variations of intermittent reinforcement reliably induce specific patterns of response, irrespective of the species being investigated (including humans in some conditions). The orderliness and predictability of behavior under schedules of reinforcement was evidence for B.F. Skinner's claim that by using operant conditioning he could obtain "control over behavior", in a way that rendered the theoretical disputes of contemporary comparative psychology obsolete. The reliability of schedule control supported the idea that a radical behaviorist experimental analysis of behavior could be the foundation for a psychology that did not refer to mental or cognitive processes. The reliability of schedules also led to the development of applied behavior analysis as a means of controlling or altering behavior.

Many of the simpler possibilities, and some of the more complex ones, were investigated at great length by Skinner using pigeons, but new schedules continue to be defined and investigated.

Read more about this topic:  Reinforcement

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Famous quotes containing the word schedules:

    My friend devotes himself to his life, whenever he can find the spare time. His motto is: ‘Don’t just sit there: live!’ So he’s too busy to stand, to walk, to do anything, except to live. He even refused to kiss a girl, when invited, on the grounds that it was time again to be living. Schedules are sacred to him.
    Marvin Cohen, U.S. author and humorist. The Self-Devoted Friend, New Directions (1967)