Misconceptions of Negative Reinforcement
Negative reinforcement is commonly misunderstood because of the term negative. Most people get it mixed up with punishment or think it refers to an unwanted behavior being reinforced. In the science of behavior analysis, the term negative refers to the fact that a stimulus is being removed after a behavior. Remember, reinforcement is used to increase behavior, so with negative reinforcement, a stimulus is removed following a behavior to increase the frequency of the behavior in the future. For example, when you connect your seat belt to stop the annoying buzzing sound in your car, this is negative reinforcement (the behavior of wearing a seat belt increases to remove an aversive stimulus).
- Explain the difference between the common misconception of the term negative reinforcement and how the science of behavior analysis defines it. Why do you think this misconception exists?
- Provide three examples of negative reinforcement in ABC (three term contingency) format. Explain why they are negative reinforcement.
- Provide three examples of positive reinforcement in ABC (three term contingency) format. Explain why they are positive reinforcement.