Learning & Teaching Foreign Languages



In B.F. Skinner's work on operant conditioning, responses to stimuli are reinforced positively through rewards or negatively by the cessation of punishment (an aversive stimulus.)

When a pigeon in a Skinner box receives a food pellet upon pecking a disk on the box wall, the pecking response is reinforced by the reward of food. The regularity of rewards and punishments can also be manipulated experimentally, as when the pigeon receives a pellet after each peck, after each fifth peck, every 60 seconds, or at irregular intervals. The strongest responses are produced under a variable schedule of reinforcement, providing a psychological explanation for the attraction of gambling.


  1. Read and reflect: Skinnerian theory
  2. Watch: Operant conditioning

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