By contrast, technical parlance would use the term "negative reinforcement" to describe encouragement of a given behavior by creating a scenario in which an unpleasant factor is or will be present but engaging in the behavior results in either escaping from that factor or preventing its occurrence, as in Martin Seligman's experiments involving dogs' learning processes regarding the avoidance of electric shock. Skinner defined reinforcers according to the change in response strength (response rate) rather than to more subjective criteria, such as what is pleasurable or valuable to someone.
Accordingly, activities, foods or items considered pleasant or enjoyable may not necessarily be reinforcing (because they produce no increase in the response preceding them).
Positive reinforcement occurs when a desirable event or stimulus is presented as a consequence of a behavior and the behavior increases.
Reinforcers serve to increase behaviors whereas punishers serve to decrease behaviors; thus, positive reinforcers are stimuli that the subject will work to attain, and negative reinforcers are stimuli that the subject will work to be rid of or to end.
Stimuli, settings, and activities only fit the definition of reinforcers if the behavior that immediately precedes the potential reinforcer increases in similar situations in the future; for example, a child who receives a cookie when he or she asks for one.
If the frequency of "cookie-requesting behavior" increases, the cookie can be seen as reinforcing "cookie-requesting behavior".
The memory-enhancing stimulus can also be one whose effects are directly rather than only indirectly emotional, as with the phenomenon of "flashbulb memory," in which an emotionally highly intense stimulus can incentivize memory of a set of a situation's circumstances well beyond the subset of those circumstances that caused the emotionally significant stimulus, as when people of appropriate age are able to remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the assassination of John F.
Kennedy or of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In the classical conditioning paradigm the experimenter triggers (elicits) the desirable response by presenting a reflex eliciting stimulus, the Unconditional Stimulus (UCS), which he pairs (precedes) with a neutral stimulus, the Conditional Stimulus (CS).A primary reinforcer, sometimes called an unconditioned reinforcer, is a stimulus that does not require pairing with a different stimulus in order to function as a reinforcer and most likely has obtained this function through the evolution and its role in species' survival.Examples of primary reinforcers include food, water, and sex.Reinforcement is the central concept and procedure in special education, applied behavior analysis, and the experimental analysis of behavior and is a core concept in some medical and psychopharmacology models, particularly addiction, dependence, and compulsion.Laboratory research on reinforcement is usually dated from the work of Edward Thorndike, known for his experiments with cats escaping from puzzle boxes.