Operant Conditioning

Pigeon in an operant chamber.


Steps in Operant Conditioning

  1. Identify the positive reinforcement.
  2. Identify the desired behavior.
  3. Record the baseline or operant level.
  4. The baseline refers to the number of times the individual emits the desired behavior prior to shaping.
  5. Begin the shaping procedure.

Once shaping has occurred, the Continuous Reinforcement (CRF) Schedule is implemented. Continuous Reinforcement means that after each desired behavior is emitted, positive reinforcement is delivered. Therefore, 100% of the desired behaviors are followed by positive reinforcement. Because a CRF Schedule requires a large supply of positive reinforcement as well as time, it is important to switch to an Intermittent or Partial Schedule of Reinforcement. With an Intermittent Schedule, fewer than 100% of the desired behaviors will be followed by positive reinforcement.