AP Psychology : Operant Conditioning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Operant Conditioning

A rat is presented with positive reinforcement for pressing a lever. It is provided a food reward at varying times (e.g. one, two, and three minutes) after a specific lever is depressed. This is an example of which of the following types of conditioning?

Possible Answers:

Variable-interval schedule classical conditioning

Fixed-interval schedule classical conditioning

Variable-ratio schedule operant conditioning

Variable-interval schedule operant conditioning

Fixed-interval schedule operant conditioning

Correct answer:

Variable-interval schedule operant conditioning

Explanation:

This is operant conditioning because behaviors are controlled through reinforcement. In this case, a reward, or positive reinforcement, is being presented. This is a variable-interval schedule because reinforcement is presented after varying intervals of time.

Example Question #21 : Operant Conditioning

Scott wants his girlfriend, Victoria, to stop swearing. In order to gradually accomplish this, Scott decides that he will pinch Victoria on the arm every time she swears. What kind of operant conditioning technique is Scott slyly employing to curb Victoria's verbal habits?

Possible Answers:

Negative punishment

Positive punishment

Negative reinforcement

Positive reinforcement

None of these

Correct answer:

Positive punishment

Explanation:

Scott decides to pinch Victoria every time she utters a swear word. In other words, Scott is administering an aversive stimulus (the painful pinching) in order to decrease the frequency of Victoria's swearing (an unwanted behavior in Scott's opinion). This is an example of positive punishment.

Example Question #671 : Ap Psychology

A parent rewards their young child with a compliment whenever they correctly pluralize a word by adding "s" to the end of the word. The child begins to pluralize words like "fish" and "man" by adding "s" to the end, and is upset when this does not result in a compliment. What failure of learning is the child demonstrating?

Possible Answers:

Specificity error

Syntax error

Generalization error

Transference error

Modeling error

Correct answer:

Generalization error

Explanation:

Generalization errors occur when a particular reinforced or conditioned behavior leads to a reaction to stimulus (or an attempt at behavior, for operant conditioning) that is superficially close to, but not actually, the desired condition. Examples of this are children overgeneralizing the rules of grammar, dogs learning to bark at (or be friendly to) everyone they meet rather than just the targeted individuals, and a person with a food aversion feeling sick when something smells vaguely like the food they had the reaction to.

Example Question #22 : Operant Conditioning

Which of the following is an example of negative reinforcement?

Possible Answers:

A police officer gives a ticket to a driver who is speeding, reducing their available money.

A person who listens to music at a high volume over many years begins to go deaf.

A child who improves their grade in math to an A is exempted from having to wash the dishes after dinner for a month.

A rat which successfully runs a maze is given a saucer of milk.

A teacher awards extra credit to anyone who attends every lecture in a semester without being tardy.

Correct answer:

A child who improves their grade in math to an A is exempted from having to wash the dishes after dinner for a month.

Explanation:

Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior is reinforced via the subtraction of something negative or undesirable from the organism's environment. This could mean the removal of pain or unpleasant labor, a reduction in stress, or an end to some ongoing negative experience. Note that, since the effect of this is to increase the likelihood of the behavior, rather than to decrease it, this is not the same as punishment.

Example Question #263 : Individual Psychology And Behavior

Which psychologist is considered to be the father of operant conditioning?

Possible Answers:

B.F. Skinner

Edward Thorndike

Ivan Pavlov

John Watson

Freud

Correct answer:

B.F. Skinner

Explanation:

B.F. Skinner based his research off of Thorndike's law of effect and is considered to be the father/founder of operant conditioning (the type of learning in which the effects of an action determine whether it will be repeated in the future). He is most famous for Skinner's box-- a box in which he placed animals to conduct operant conditioning experiments.  

Ivan Pavlov is one of the earliest psychologists known for classical conditioning and is particularly famous for his experiments in which he got dogs to associate food with sounds, leading them to salivate when there was a bell even when there was not food present. 

John Watson was a classical conditioning psychologist who is most famous for his "Little Albert" experiment in which he trained a young boy to be afraid of a rat (or anything like looked like a white rat) because he made an unpleasant noise while presenting the rat. This research indicated that humans too could be classically conditioned.

Edward Thorndike came up with the law of effect, which states that positive consequences increase the likelihood that an action will be repeated and negative consequences decrease the likelihood that it will.

Sigmund Freud is not a psychologist associated with conditioning at all. Instead, he came up with psychodynamic theories that explained people's actions in terms of conflicts in their unconscious. 

Example Question #262 : Individual Psychology And Behavior

Which psychologist based his research off of Edward Thorndike's Law of Effect?

Possible Answers:

Ivan Pavlov

John Watson

Sigmund Freud

B.F. Skinner

Carl Rogers

Correct answer:

B.F. Skinner

Explanation:

B.F. Skinner based his research off of Thorndike's law of effect and is considered to be the founder of operant conditioning (the type of learning in which the effects of an action determine whether it will be repeated in the future). He is most famous for Skinner's box-- a box in which he placed animals to conduct operant conditioning experiments.

Edward Thorndike came up with the law of effect, which states that positive consequences increase the likelihood that an action will be repeated and negative consequences decrease the likelihood that it will.

Ivan Pavlov is one of the earliest psychologists known for classical conditioning and is particularly famous for his experiments in which he got dogs to associate food with sounds, leading them to salivate when there was a bell even when there was not food present. 

John Watson was a classical conditioning psychologist who is most famous for his "Little Albert" experiment in which he trained a young boy to be afraid of a rat (or anything like looked like a white rat) because he made an unpleasant noise while presenting the rat. This research indicated that humans too could be classically conditioned.

Sigmund Freud is not a psychologist associated with conditioning at all. Instead, he came up with psychodynamic theories that explained people's actions in terms of conflicts in their unconscious. 

Carl Rogers is also not a psychologist associated with conditioning. He developed a person-centered method of therapy.

Example Question #21 : Operant Conditioning

Which psychologist is most famous for his Law of Effect?

Possible Answers:

Freud

Edward Thorndike

B.F. Skinner

Ivan Pavlov

John Watson

Correct answer:

Edward Thorndike

Explanation:

Edward Thorndike came up with the law of effect, which states that positive consequences increase the likelihood that an action will be repeated and negative consequences decrease the likelihood that it will.

Ivan Pavlov is one of the earliest psychologists known for classical conditioning and is particularly famous for his experiments in which he got dogs to associate food with sounds, leading them to salivate when there was a bell even when there was not food present. 

John Watson was a classical conditioning psychologist who is most famous for his "Little Albert" experiment in which he trained a young boy to be afraid of a rat (or anything like looked like a white rat) because he made an unpleasant noise while presenting the rat. This research indicated that humans too could be classically conditioned.

B.F. Skinner based his research off of Thorndike's law of effect and is considered to be the founder of operant conditioning (the type of learning in which the effects of an action determine whether it will be repeated in the future). He is most famous for Skinner's box-- a box in which he placed animals to conduct operant conditioning experiments.  

Sigmund Freud is not a psychologist associated with conditioning at all. Instead, he came up with psychodynamic theories that explained people's actions in terms of conflicts in their unconscious. 

Example Question #22 : Operant Conditioning

With which type of conditioning is Skinner's box associated?

Possible Answers:

Negative Conditioning

Classical Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

Positive Conditioning

Punishment Conditioning

Correct answer:

Operant Conditioning

Explanation:

B.F. Skinner is considered to be the founder of operant conditioning (the type of learning in which the effects of an action determine whether it will be repeated in the future). He is most famous for Skinner's box-- a box in which he placed animals to conduct operant conditioning experiments.

Classical conditioning can be thought of as learning through association and operant conditioning as learning through effect. Positive, negative, and punishment conditioning as methods do not exist.

 

Example Question #21 : Operant Conditioning

Which of the following best describes the difference between a reinforcer and a punishment in operant conditioning?

Possible Answers:

Punishments and reinforcers both increase the likelihood that the subject will repeat their action in the future.

A reinforcer is a consequence that makes it more likely that the subject will repeat their action in the future; a punishment is a consequence that makes it less likely that the subject will repeat their action in the future.

A reinforcer is an association made between an unconditioned and a conditioned stimulus; a punishment is the cessation of the association between an unconditioned and a conditioned stimulus.

Punishments and reinforcers both decrease the likelihood that the subject will repeat their action in the future.

A punishment is a consequence that makes it more likely that the subject will repeat their action in the future; a reinforcer is a consequence that makes it less likely that the subject will repeat their action in the future.

Correct answer:

A reinforcer is a consequence that makes it more likely that the subject will repeat their action in the future; a punishment is a consequence that makes it less likely that the subject will repeat their action in the future.

Explanation:

This question is purely definitional. Operant conditioning is learning by consequence, and a reinforcer is a good consequence that increases the possibility that the action will be repeated and a punishment is a bad consequence that decreases the possibility that the action will be repeated. It is important to note that if any of the answer choices use the term “association” with operant conditioning, then it is wrong because “association” is a term tied specifically to classical conditioning.

Example Question #30 : Operant Conditioning

Sarah's dad increases Sarah's chores after she fails a test for the first time.  The chores best represent which of the following types of operant conditioning consequences?

Possible Answers:

Positive reinforcer

Negative punishment

Positive punishment

Negative association

Negative reinforcer

Correct answer:

Positive punishment

Explanation:

Operant conditioning is learning by consequence, and a reinforcer is a good consequence that increases the possibility that the action will be repeated and a punishment is a bad consequence that decreases the possibility that the action will be repeated. Sarah's dad is trying to get Sarah to not repeat her action in the future and is using chores as punishment. Positive punishment is when a bad thing is added and negative punishment is when a good thing is taken away. Since a bad thing is added to decrease the likelihood that she will repeat her action, adding more chores is a positive punishment.

 

 
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