GRE Subject Test: Psychology : Instrumental Conditioning

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Instrumental Conditioning

Mary is a 4-year-old child who has frequent temper tantrums. Each time she has a temper tantrum her mother takes away her dessert. In this case, her mother's reaction to Mary's temper tantrum is best described as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Positive punishment

Negative punishment

Positive reinforcement

Negative reinforcement

Correct answer:

Negative punishment

Explanation:

Each time Mary's mother takes away her dessert, she is trying to decrease Mary's temper tantrums by removing something that Mary finds desirable. The key words here are "decrease" and "take away." Any action that decreases a behavior is a form of punishment, and any action that increases a behavior is reinforcement. When something is removed it is considered negative, and when something is added it is positive. In this case, Mary's mother taking away her dessert in order to decrease her temper tantrums is “negative punishment.” 

Example Question #2 : Instrumental Conditioning

Weekly paychecks are an example of which of the following types of reinforcement?

Possible Answers:

Variable ratio

Fixed ratio

Variable interval

Fixed interval

Correct answer:

Fixed interval

Explanation:

Weekly paychecks are an example of a "fixed interval" schedule of reinforcement, because the reinforcement (i.e. paycheck) is given each week after the same amount of time has passed. An example of a "fixed ratio" schedule would be if a paycheck were given after a person completed five assignments. "Variable ratio" and "variable interval" schedules provide reinforcement after a variable or changing amount of either time (e.g. variable interval) or number of completed tasks (e.g. variable ratio).

Example Question #2 : Instrumental Conditioning

Extinction occurs when a __________ is no longer paired with a __________.

Possible Answers:

CS. . . UR

UR. . . US

US. . . UR

CS. . . UR

CS. . . US

Correct answer:

CS. . . US

Explanation:

When a conditioned stimulus (CS) is no longer paired with an unconditional stimulus (US), then the conditioned stimulus loses its power. In the case of Pavlov, if the bell (CS) is no longer paired with food (US), then the dog will no longer salivate at the sound of the bell. 

Example Question #3 : Instrumental Conditioning

Mary is a 4-year-old child who has frequent temper tantrums. Each time she has a temper tantrum her mother takes away her dessert. In this case, her mother's reaction to Mary's temper tantrum is best described as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Negative punishment

Negative reinforcement

Positive punishment

Positive reinforcement

Correct answer:

Negative punishment

Explanation:

Each time Mary's mother takes away her dessert, she is trying to decrease Mary's temper tantrums by removing something that Mary finds desirable. The key words here are "decrease" and "take away." Any action that decreases a behavior is a form of punishment, and any action that increases a behavior is reinforcement. When something is removed it is considered negative, and when something is added it is positive. In this case, Mary's mother taking away her dessert in order to decrease her temper tantrums is “negative punishment.” 

All GRE Subject Test: Psychology Resources

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