AP Psychology : Operant Conditioning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Operant Conditioning

Whereas operant conditioning primarily involves voluntary, spontaneous responses, ______________ involves mostly involuntary reflexes and visceral responses.

Possible Answers:

Modeling

Observational learning

Classical conditioning

None of the above

Correct answer:

Classical conditioning

Explanation:

Classical conditioning usually involves involuntary reflexes or visceral responses (think about the salivation of Pavlov's dogs). Observational learning such as modeling involves voluntary responses (e.g., a child mimicking a parent's gestures).

Example Question #42 : Operant Conditioning

You get in your car and start backing out of the driveway. Upon moving, the car starts to beep, signaling that you have not buckled your seat belt. The sound is so annoying that you quickly buckle your seat belt in an attempt to make the beeping stop. The beeping is an example of which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Positive reinforcement 

Positive punishment 

Negative reinforcement 

Negative punishment 

Continuous reinforcement 

Correct answer:

Negative reinforcement 

Explanation:

The beeping is considered to be negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is the type of reinforcement that occurs when an unpleasant stimuli is removed upon performing a behavior. Reinforcement always increases a behavior. In this case, the unpleasant stimulus is the car beeping and the behavior is buckling the seat belt. Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, is the application of a reward upon performing a behavior. Again, reinforcement (either positive or negative) always increases behavior. Both negative and positive punishments decrease behavior. Negative punishment is taking away something good upon performing a behavior (e.g. getting TV taken away due to a bad test grade). Positive punishment is the application of an unpleasant punishment upon performing a behavior (e.g. speeding on the freeway will result in a ticket).

Example Question #43 : Operant Conditioning

Sandy is an aspiring singer. Even though she loves to sing, she also experiences severe stage fright before and during a performance. Sometimes when she is feeling so overwhelmed or nervous before a performance, she will decide to cancel the show because of her anxiety. Lately, even when she sees a stage or a microphone, she begins to feel panicked and notices her breathing and heart rate increase. 

Sandy's actions (i.e. canceling a show when she is feeling anxious) relieve an uncomfortable feeling; therefore, they are considered to be which of the following types of behaviors. 

Possible Answers:

Negatively reinforced

Negatively punished

Positively punished

Positively reinforced

Correct answer:

Negatively reinforced

Explanation:

Behavior can be shaped through operant conditioning through the use of rewards and punishments. "Negative reinforcement "occurs when you remove or relieve a negative feeling. In this case, Sandy's behavior of canceling the show is being negatively reinforced because it removes the feelings of anxiety. 

Example Question #691 : Ap Psychology

A researcher is testing learning on rats. He decided to reward rats with a piece of food for pressing a lever. Once the rats learned the association between the lever and reward, the researcher decided that he wants to maximize the number of lever presses and give out the least number of food pieces. In order to achieve this, what type of reinforcement schedule should the researcher use?

Possible Answers:

Ratio reinforcement

Negative reinforcement

Positive reinforcement

Interval reinforcement

Correct answer:

Ratio reinforcement

Explanation:

Reinforcement schedules can be fixed or variable and ratio or interval. In general, "ratio reinforcement" schedules are most resistant to extinction compared to interval schedules. On the other hand, "negative reinforcement" and "positive reinforcement" are not reinforcement schedules.

Example Question #41 : Operant Conditioning

A slot machine uses which type of reinforcement schedule?

Possible Answers:

Variable-interval

Fixed-interval

Fixed-ratio

Variable-ratio

Correct answer:

Variable-ratio

Explanation:

A "variable-ratio" reinforcement schedule delivers a reinforcer after a variable number of non-reinforced responses. In the same way, slot machines give a reinforcement (i.e. winning) after a variable number of losses. This type of reinforcement schedule elicits a higher resistance to extinction with high steady rates of responding making it very lucrative for the casino industry.

Example Question #692 : Ap Psychology

During an operant conditioning experiment, a researcher provides a rat with a shock every time that the rat demonstrates a particular behavior. This type of operant conditioning is referred to as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Positive punishment

Negative punishment

Negative reinforcement

Positive reinforcement

Correct answer:

Positive punishment

Explanation:

"Positive punishment" occurs when a stimulus (e.g. shock) is provided and weakens a response. "Negative punishment" occurs when a stimulus (often a pleasant one) is removed and this weakens a response. "Positive reinforcement" is when a stimulus (often a pleasant one) is provided and strengthens a response. Last, "negative reinforcement" occurs when a stimulus (often an unpleasant one) is removed and this strengthens a response.

Example Question #42 : Operant Conditioning

During an operant conditioning experiment, a researcher provides a rat with a sugar pellet every time that the rat demonstrates a particular behavior. This type of operant conditioning is referred to as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Negative reinforcement

Positive punishment

Negative punishment

Positive reinforcement

Correct answer:

Positive reinforcement

Explanation:

"Positive reinforcement" is when a stimulus (e.g. sugar pellet) is provided that strengthens a response. "Negative reinforcement" occurs when a stimulus (often an unpleasant one) is removed and this strengthens a response. "Positive punishment occurs" when a stimulus (often an unpleasant one) is provided and this weakens a response. Last, "negative punishment" occurs when a stimulus (often a pleasant one) is removed and this weakens a response.

Example Question #41 : Operant Conditioning

Marc goes to his job and performs his duties assigned to him. He receives his paycheck every two weeks. In terms of his paycheck, which of the following schedules describes the reinforcement schedule of Marc's job experience?

Possible Answers:

Fixed-interval

Fixed-ratio

Variable-shaping

Variable-ratio

Variable-interval

Correct answer:

Fixed-interval

Explanation:

Marc is on a "fixed-intervalreinforcement schedule. This is because he is reinforced after a certain fixed amount of time has gone by. It is not "fixed-ratio," because it does not depend on his behaviors emitted. It also is not "variable-interval," because there is no varying time in between his reinforcement: it's every two weeks. It is not "variable-ratio" because he is not being reinforced for a certain amount of behaviors and the time does not vary in between reinforcement (i.e. paycheck delivery). Last,"variable-shaping" is not a real reinforcement schedule. 

Example Question #41 : Operant Conditioning

A parent stops yelling when the child goes to clean his room. This is indicative of which of the following types of operant conditioning?

Possible Answers:

Positive punishment 

Positive reinforcement

Negative punishment 

Negative reinforcement

Correct answer:

Negative reinforcement

Explanation:

This is an example of negative reinforcement because when the child is cleaning his room, he removes the unpleasant stimulus: his yelling of his parent.

Example Question #41 : Operant Conditioning

Which of the following choices best defines negative reinforcement?

Possible Answers:

Discouraging a behavior by adding a negative stimulus

Strengthening a behavior by providing a positive stimulus

Strengthening a behavior by repeating reinforcement every time the behavior occurs

Discouraging a behavior by adding a positive stimulus

Strengthening a behavior by taking away a negative stimulus

Correct answer:

Strengthening a behavior by taking away a negative stimulus

Explanation:

"Strengthening a behavior by taking away a negative stimulus" is the correct answer. Often confused with punishment, negative reinforcement strengthens behavior while punishment discourages it. For example, hitting the snooze button on an alarm clock takes away a negative stimulus (i.e. the horrible noise) and makes you more likely to hit the snooze button again. 

The other choices are incorrect. "Strengthening a behavior by providing a positive stimulus" is positive reinforcement, while "discouraging a behavior by adding a negative stimulus" is considered to be a punishment. "Strengthening a behavior by repeating reinforcement every time the behavior occurs" is continuous reinforcement. Last, "discouraging a behavior by adding a positive stimulus" is incorrect. Providing a positive stimulus promotes a behavior and does not discourage it For example, if a child is crying and you give her a chocolate to stop crying, then she is likely to cry again because she knows she has been given chocolate in the past for the same action, which promotes the crying behavior.

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