PSYC 6717 week 1 Discussion: Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is the process of learning through reinforcement or punishment, resulting in an increase or decrease in frequency of a behavior ( Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2020).

An example of operant conditioning in my life, I would say how I’ve managed follow a schedule with intent of creating a balance between my work, school, and home life. I am studying for my teacher certification, my master’s, while also teaching Geometry for the first time. Following a schedule allows me to spend time with my children on the weekends, and on some days practice self-care. The antecedent or actions that have sort of served as a trigger for following a schedule is the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed, and not receiving enough rest. The reinforcement that promotes the increase of my ability to stay on schedule, is the  reward of spending quality time with my sons and practicing self-care which keeps me sane and positive, and the freedom of being stress free.

The antecedent condition of being tired all the time, having no energy or little time due to studying and worrying about meeting deadlines prompted the target behavior of sticking to a schedule. Which results in me feeling like I am not missing out and provides a sense of stability and balance between work, school, and family.


Discussion: Operant Conditioning

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Throughout your life, you have been conditioned to respond to certain stimuli in certain ways. This is known as operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is the type of learning in which the consequences of a behavior influence whether an individual will act in the same way in the future.

Even if there was not a clear behavior plan, the principles of operant conditioning have helped shape your life. In operant conditioning, you learn the relationship between your own behavior and reinforcing or punishing consequences from your environment. You may also learn conditions (antecedents) where consequences are more or less likely to occur.

For this Discussion, you will analyze the fundamental principles of operant conditioning and how it has impacted your life. Additionally, you analyze how behavioral psychological theory (e.g., antecedents, reinforcements, punishment) is applied to condition behavior. As you read this week’s Learning Resources, try to identify times in your life when operant conditioning clearly played a part in your learning.

To Prepare

  • Consider how terminology of operant conditioning relates to specific behaviors.
  • Think about how your parents reinforced or punished you when you were growing up, and how those acts influenced how you behaved.
  • Consider how situations in your life today contribute to your behavior. Are you more or less likely to do something when a certain person is around?
  • Review the interactive media in the Learning Resources, “Operant Conditioning Terms.”

By Day 4 of Week 1

Post a description of a scenario that illustrates the application of operant conditioning in your life and explain how behavioral theory (e.g., antecedents, reinforcements, punishment) was applied to condition behavior in the scenario you posted. Explain how the antecedent condition facilitated or inhibited the target behavior discussed.

Read your colleagues’ postings.

Note: For this discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the To Participate in this Discussion link, then select Create Thread to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click on Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking on Submit!

My 4-year-old son has been spending a lot of time with his older cousin and has picked up the response “what” and “Hun” when someone calls his name. I am in the process of teaching him manners, and he loves verbal praise. When my fiancé or I call his name, and he responds “yes sir” or “yes Ma’am he is rewarded with praise. 

If he uses proper manners without being promoted, I say, “good job using your manners buddy”.  

Antecedent: He wants to be just like his older cousin, so he follows the behaviors he sees his cousin does at home and the response from his aunt.  His cousin is called by his mom he responds “what” or “Hun”. His mother answers with no problem, he thinks this is ok, and he repeats behavior at home.  

Positive reinforcement as defined by the course text is a response followed immediately by the presentation of a stimulus change that results in similar responses occurring more often.  

I am adding something desirable “praise” to increase the use of proper manners.  

By Day 6 of Week 1

Respond to at least two colleagues’ posts in one of the following ways:

  • Expand on each colleague’s explanation of how they applied behavioral theory to their scenario.
  • Offer your perspective(s) on whether you agree or disagree with each colleague’s explanation of how the antecedent condition facilitated or inhibited the target behavior discussed.

Be sure to support your posts and responses with specific references to behavior-analytic theory and research. In addition to the Learning Resources, search the Walden Library and/or internet for peer-reviewed articles to support your posts and responses. Use proper APA format and citations, including those in the Learning Resources.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights that you have gained because of your colleagues’ comments.

Growing up, my parents were active and intentional in the way they raised my siblings and I, but my dad was the main disciplinarian in our household. My mom tended to give in more easily and when she did discipline us, her consequences tended to be less harsh than my dad’s. Looking back, my dad was primarily authoritative, rather than authoritarian, in his practices, but he was the one who would be quicker to send us to timeout and for a longer period or be firmer with a spanking.

By nature, I do not like to disappoint people, and especially not my dad as he and I had a close relationship growing up. So, I learned to be more obedient around my dad, being mindful of the choices I made, the tone I used, etc. His punishment caused me to behave more appropriately as I did not want to receive the consequence. I also gained more positive attention from my dad for appropriate behavior than I did from my mom. Therefore, I was highly motivated to exhibit my best behaviors around my dad due to the reinforcement of verbal praise he exhibited as I was growing up. In fact, to this day, I am still conditioned to behave in a similar manner. For example, when I am driving with my dad in the car, I am very conscientious of how I conduct myself behind the wheel. This isn’t to say that I am a poor driver ordinarily, but that I am motivated to ensure my behavior is that much more appropriate.

An antecedent can be described as “an environmental condition or stimulus change existing or occurring prior to a behavior of interest” (Cooper et al., 2020, p.786). In the example above, my behavior was influenced by the presence of my dad, therefore he was the antecedent for certain behaviors. For example, if he was in the room when I was having a heated conversation with my mom as a teenager, I was less likely to exhibit a sassy tone or raise my voice at her.



Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2020). Applied behavior analysis (3rd ed.). Pearson. pp. 2-46.

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