EDU 221 Negative Reinforcement
Drying Wet Hands • Thomas has wet hands after washing them. He rubs them in the towel and the water is now removed from them. • He knows that every time he doesn’t want his hands to remain wet he can use a towel to get rid of the water. • He now uses a towel every time he wants to remove the water from his hands.
Why is this negative reinforcement? • The water on his hands was present before he rubbed them in the towel. • His behaviour of rubbing his hands in the towel removes the water and he uses a towel every time he wants this to happen. • Therefore negative reinforcement is occurring. • Before: hands are wet. • Behaviour: rub them in the towel. • After: water is gone from his hands. • Future behaviour: Thomas will rub his hands when they are wet.
Screaming! • Timmy doesn’t want to eat carrots but his parents keep trying to get him to eat them. • At dinner time, if there are any carrots on his plate he will scream and shout until they are taken off his plate. • His parents always give in to the tantrums and take away the carrots because his tantrums are becoming increasingly severe and last longer.
Why is this negative reinforcement? • The carrots were present before Timmy had a tantrum. • His tantrum then caused his parents to remove the carrots. • Timmy’s tantrums are getting more severe and lasting longer which suggests this behaviour is increasing, therefore the tantrums are being negatively reinforced by the removal of the carrots. • Before: carrots on the plate. • Behavior: screaming. • After: carrots no longer on the plate. • Future behavior: Timmy will scream when he doesn’t want carrots.
Turning Off Your Alarm Clock Mike’s morning alarm goes off at 5:00am. He hates this noise and reaches over and hits the STOP button which stops the alarm noise. He does this every morning when his alarm goes off.
Why is this negative reinforcement? • The alarm goes off and it’s a pretty annoying noise for Mike. • He always hits the STOP button when the alarm goes off so negative reinforcement is occurring. • Before: morning alarm noise. • Behaviour: hit the STOP button. • After: alarm noise stops. • Future behaviour: Mike will hit the STOP button when the alarm goes off.
Can you identify the negative reinforcer in each of these examples? • Before heading out for a day at the beach, you slather on sunscreen in order to avoid getting sunburned. • You decide to clean up your mess in the kitchen in order to avoid getting in a fight with your roommate. • On Monday morning, you leave the house early in order to avoid getting stuck in traffic and being late for class.
Sunburn, a fight with your roommate and being late for work are all negative outcomes that were avoided by performing a specific behavior. • By eliminating these undesirable outcomes, the preventative behaviors become more likely to occur again in the future.