Negative Reinforcement

Not to be confused with positive reinforcement and negative punishment, this is a procedure in which a behavior is followed by the removal of an event/item/activity that results in the strengthening of the behavior over time.  This procedure often involves the removal of “something” that the person does not like and is defined by its anticipated strengthening effect on the behavior. For example, when Johnny is given a task, he starts whining and more instructions for him to start working on his task will lead to tantrums.  Once tantrums are present, his teacher gives him a time out-in the corner of the classroom. In this scenario, the negative reinforcer is the removal of required work (in the form of time-out) while the behavior being strengthened is the tantrum.

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