GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) Psychology Theories of Learning-Operant Conditioning Study Material (Page 1 of 6)

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Theories of Operant or Instrumental Conditioning

  • Nature of Reinforcement: Explanations have been offered for how reinforcement strengthens the behavior it follows.
  • Premack’s Probability-Differential Theory: It claims that an activity will have reinforcing properties when its probability of occurrence is greater than that of the behavior it is intended to reinforce.
  • Response Deprivation Theory: Timberlake and Allison proposed a theory that says when an animal’s normal response rate (e. g. , eating food) is restricted (e. g. , by food deprivation), that behavior becomes more preferred and therefore reinforcing.
  • Behavioral Allocation: This proposal claims that when an animal’s ability to emit responses is restricted, it will emit the minimal number of contingent responses in

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Operant Conditioning: Important Concepts


In operant or instrumental conditioning, learner is instrumental to bring environmental changes and make action more or less likely in future. Responses operate on environment and its consequences influence probability of response being repeated.

Operant conditioning is more important in classrooms because students are active agents and their actions ultimately fetch reward or punishment. When teachers use punishment for bad behavior (talking in class) or reward good behavio

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