Posted by: Elaine

Key Terms:

  • Punishment: An event that decreases the behavior that it follows.
  • Summary:
    • Punishment is any consequence that decreases the frequency of a preceding behavior, usually by administering an undesirable consequences or withdrawing a desirable one.
    • Using swift and sure punishment, we can powerfully restrain unwanted behavior. -> Punishment combined with reinforcement is usually more effective than punishment alone.
    • When punished, because the punished behavior is suppressed, rather than forgotten, in safer settings, this behavior may reappear.
    • There are drawbacks with human punishment studies, such as increased risk for aggression, depression, and low self-esteem. Furthermore, drawbacks to physical punishments include fear as well. When punishment becomes unpredictable, sense of hopelessness and depression will be more serious.
    • Punishment can lead to undesireable side effects as listed above, but also fail to teach a child to act positively. Most psychologists therefore favor an emphasis on reinforcement rather than on punishment.

    Positive punishment: Administer an aversive stimulus
    ex) spanking, a parking ticket
    Negative punishment: Withdraw a desirable stimulus
    ex) time-out from privileges such as TV, revoked driver's license

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