How Positive Reinforcement is Used in ABA

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In ABA, positive reinforcement is often used to teach children with autism skills and social norms. The success of the approach has led some parents to give up other therapies in favor of it. However, there are many concerns about whether this method should be considered as an alternative for all autistic individuals

The “aba negative reinforcement” is a type of therapy that has been used in autism. ABA can be positive or negative, depending on the situation.

Positive reinforcement is a sort of intervention used in the fields of education, parenting, and psychology in which rewards are provided to people in order to either improve a specific behavior. It is regarded as the cornerstone of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The major use of positive reinforcement and the basis for training and getting desired actions is the ability to control consequences. Positive reinforcement is important, and this should not be overlooked. It is an essential, empirically supported intervention with a long history that has been shown to be effective in altering behavior. 

A Synopsis of Positive Reinforcement’s History 

The father of operant conditioning (also known as classical conditioning), behavior psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904–1990), said that the best approach to understand behavior is to meticulously examine the acts and outcomes of people’s activities. Conduct that is rewarded tends to be repeated (and hence strengthened); behavior that is not reinforced tends to fade out or be extinguished (and therefore weakened) (Simply Psychology).

The “Skinner Box” created by B.F. Skinner is well-known. He constructed a puzzle-like box in 1948 to examine operant training via a series of tests on animals. However, Skinner also employed cocaine as a reinforcer for rats and sometimes non-edible reinforcers such as noises or lights during these tests. During these trials, the animal within the chamber pushed a button or lever in order to earn a form of reinforcer (often food). Along with other experimental factors, such as the particular reinforcement regimens given to each group of animals, they were utilised. 

“Exactly what did a Skinner box serve? Researchers might use the tool to thoroughly examine behavior in a highly controlled setting. For instance, researchers may use the Skinner box to identify the reinforcement schedule that produced the maximum rate of response from the study participants (VeryWellMind). 

His studies moved from a laboratory environment to the general public, with psychologists, therapists, educators, and parents working with kids, students, and patients while using the fundamentals of operant conditioning, more especially positive reinforcement. 

How Today’s Society Uses Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is now extensively employed in a variety of contexts; many individuals use the intervention’s components without even realizing it. It is used by parents to motivate their kids to perform chores, by instructors to increase students’ time spent on tasks, by employers to motivate their staff to be on time for work or to boost productivity, and by clinicians to motivate their patients’ or clients’ desired target behaviors. Positive reinforcement and excellent results are fairly recognizable to those who work in the ABA industry. 

For the intervention to be successful, some aspects of positive reinforcement must be used regularly. 

The timing of reinforcers is one element of positive reinforcement (which will be discussed later on). A timetable for positive reinforcement outlines how you will go about promoting the behavior.

There are five possible schedules for receiving reinforcement (Positive Psychology):

Continuous schedule: the action is reinforced each time it occurs (this schedule is hard to keep up on since we are rarely able to be present for each occurrence).

Fixed ratio: after a certain number of repetitions, the behavior is rewarded (e.g., after every three times).

Fixed interval: after a certain period of time, the behavior is rewarded (e.g., after three weeks of good behavior).

When a behavior occurs a certain number of times, it is reinforced in a variable ratio (e.g., after one occurrence, then after another three, then after another two).

Variable interval: After a variable period of time, the behavior is rewarded (e.g., after one minute, then after 30 minutes, then after 10 minutes).

Positive reinforcement also requires that the reinforcer be supplied right away once the desired behavior has been achieved. 

In contrast to the behavior it was designed to promote, delayed reinforcement is more likely to boost the behavior that occurs after the positive reinforcer is given.

When a youngster earns a reward but doesn’t get it until he begins weeping for it, the child gets encouraged for sobbing rather than for what he did to earn it (Clear Vision). 

Last but not least, for positive reinforcement to be a successful intervention, the reinforcers need to be customized for each recipient.

“The things that different people find to be reinforcing are distinct. Not everyone will find the same things to be reinforcing, even if many others would. For instance, a lot of individuals find money to be very reinforcing at work, however, believe it or not, some people have everything they need or desire (and they are not all rich). As a result, offering money as a reinforcement for a certain conduct will not inspire such individuals. Because they value their free time more than they value extra money, employees often refuse overtime compensation (Clear Vision). 

There are certain types of reinforcers for individualization. As was already said, the kind of reinforcer used would vary based on the person and their wishes and requirements. 

The different types of reinforcers and examples of each are as follows: 

Water bottles on the desk, juice, fruit, milk, popcorn, raisins, crackers, and goldfish are available as edibles. Check your state’s regulations on edible reinforcement.

Activities include games, reading, listening to music, creating art projects, helping the instructor, solving puzzles, and having no homework days. These may be enjoyed by both individual students and groups of students.

Tangible items include clothes, toys from a toy chest, caps and shirts with logos, periodicals, little vehicles, action figures, and notebooks.

Social: specific compliments, smiles, eye contact, nodding in agreement, chats, thumbs-ups, acknowledging efforts, vocal compliments, and Friday Fun Club.

Tokens, tickets, or themed “bucks” that may be traded for internet time, lunch in the classroom, food, movie tickets, late passes, or other desired products or privileges are examples of token reinforcers that can be exchanged for reinforcers that the learner values. 

Bribery vs. Positive Reinforcement

Bribery and positive reinforcement are not the same thing. 

Look at these two instances:

Bribery: Johnny is yelling and throwing a fit at the grocery store. His mother promises him that he would receive McDonald’s on the way home if he stops acting out.

Positive reinforcement: Typically, Johnny throws a fit in the grocery store, but this time he behaved well. On the way home, his mother makes a stop at McDonald’s and informs Johnny that he has earned the reward for his good deeds. 

Bribery: Natasha’s instructor offers her School Store Bucks in exchange for her promise to keep from leaving class when she is overworked, which is one of her IEP’s target behaviors. 

Positive reinforcement: One day Natasha’s instructor compliments her on the diligent job she is doing in class. He asks her if she would like to go on a 10-minute stroll with a selected person once she finishes her challenging assignment. 

Bribery is not advised when trying to permanently alter someone’s behavior since it will just encourage them to keep acting inappropriately because they already know they will receive what they want. 

Overall, positive reinforcement is one of the simplest methods for altering behavior, and it may be quite successful if used appropriately. 

Taylor Wilson

Northeastern State University offers the Master of Education degree.

Disorders of Behavior and Learning | Georgia State University

March 2020

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Positive reinforcement is a type of reward that is used in applied behavior analysis Effective reinforcement is one type of positive reinforcement that is used in ABA. Reference: effective reinforcement aba.

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