Using a rat in a Skinner box, here is how shaping is conducted:
- Deprive the rat of food for a day in order for food to serve as positive reinforcement.
- Select the behavior to be shaped. Usually bar pressing is selected.
- Provide food in the hopper so that the rat will look for the food in the hopper.
- Begin shaping by providing food in the hopper each time the behavior more closely resembles bar pressing.
For shaping to work, extreme caution must occur in selecting which behaviors will be followed by positive reinforcement.