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This was in contrast to Ivan Pavlov’s principles of classical conditioning, which along with J. Watson’s extreme environmentalism, strongly influenced his own thinking.Reinforcement theory has been used in many areas of study to include animal training, raising children, and motivating employees in the workplace.This states that people engage in behaviors that have pleasant outcomes and avoid behaviors that result in unpleasant outcomes. From this view, the important consequence of a behavior is the information it provides about behavioral outcomes.The effect of the information is to alter policy (Gallistel, 1998).In their opinion, it would make the discipline of Psychology more "scientific" and on par with the core sciences.These researchers turned to exploring only the behaviors that could be observed and measured, and away from the mysterious workings of the mind (Funder, 2010).One is positive reinforcement and the other is negative reinforcement.To avoid any confusion we can think of positive as a plus sign ( ) and negative as minus sign (-).
The theory may also be known as Behaviorism, or Operant Conditioning, which is still commonly taught in psychology today.
In 1911, American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949), published the Law of Effect, a principle of learning that states “responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again in that situation, and responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again in that situation.” In his animal learning studies, Thorndike placed hungry cats inside “puzzle boxes.” Once inside the box, a cat was able to gain access to food only if it was able to use the latch to get out of the box.
Through trial and error, the cat was able to learn the contingency between its behavior and the reward.
As an example, if the cat would press a bar or pull on a string, a door would open allowing the cat to escape.
Once the cat was outside of the box, it would find some food in close proximity, thereby reinforcing the response (Thorndike, 1911).