A primer of operant conditioning by George Stanley Reynolds

By George Stanley Reynolds

Booklet by means of Reynolds, George Stanley

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Rather, our labeling of stimuli as "similar" is a demonstration of our own tendency to generalize between or among them: it shows that we have responded to them in somewhat the same manner. We simply share this tendency with the organism whose behavior we observe. Stimulus Generalization vs. Frequent, Uncontrolled Responding Stimulus generalization must be distinguished from a simple increase in the overall tendency to emit the reinforced response regardless of the stimulus. Generalization is an increase in the frequency of responding which is dep endent on th e stimulus.

To.. create . or . shape new OHerqnt bebayj or.. Before beginning to shape behavior, we must ~ ~~ke sure that the reinforcer to be used will be effective. This is accomplished by depriving the organism of the reinforcer for some r--') time before shaping begins. Next, we must analyze the exact behavior to be produced: Precisely what sequence of responses is required? Once we have decided on the final behavior, we are in a position to reinforce closer and closer approximations to it. The general procedure used in shaping begins by raising the deprived organism's general level of activity.

DEPENDENCIES, CONTINGENCIES, AND SUPERSTITIOUS BEHAVIOR Sometimes changes in behavior are brought about by deliberate and systematic manipulations of the environment, and sometimes they happen by chance. We noted this difference above in discussing the effects of reinforcement on topography. In the shaping procedure, we have seen how deliberate selective reinforcement changes old behavior into new; now we shall examine a process in which changes in behavior are largely a matter of chance. Environmental events may have either contingent or dependent relations with behavior.

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