Mind, brain and cultur

My first objective is to understand what reinforcement is and the different types. In ‘A students dictionary of Psychology’ by Peter Stratton and Nicky Hayes a reinforcer is described as “something which strengthened a learned response, and which makes a learned response more likely to occur again”. Drew Western goes on to say in his book ‘Psychology mind, brain and culture’ that there are two types of reinforcement, being positive and negative and positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is “receiving a reward/praise for behaviour therefore making it more likely to occur again”. In the textbook ‘Advanced PE for Edexcel’ (2000) it is stated “the link between the repetition of a performance and the use of appropriate desired rewards is stronger if the reinforcement occurs as closely as possible to a response. Rewards need to be used sparingly and tie in with the goals set for and by the performer. ”

Negative reinforcement is “the withdrawal of reward or praise consequently making a behaviour less likely to occur”. The website www.as.wvu.edu.com states that “The Rules of Consequence are used in a three step sequence that defines the process of reinforcement. We can call these steps, When-Do-Get.” Step 1: When in some situation, Step 2: Do some behaviour, Step 3: Get some consequence.

According to Reinforcement Theory, people learn several things during the process of reinforcement. First, they learn that certain behaviours (Step 2: Do) lead to consequences (Step 3: Get). This is the most obvious application of the Rules of Consequence. But second, and as important, people learn that the Do-Get only works in certain situations My second objective is to understand how reinforcement should be used and the effects it can have.

The psychologist Freud (1964) recorded that children need praise from both their parents to make them feel successful and therefore motivate them. Small rewards should be used which not only reward a win or good action but also a good effort. Even if a child does not score or does not win, praise for their efforts will motivate them to continue trying hard and improve their performance within their own capabilities. Rewards and punishments should also be changed

regularly so that they do not become monotonous. Although reinforcement is used as a meaning of improving performance and eliminating negative aspects of performance it does have its limitations. If used or issued wrongly it can have adverse effects and hinder performance. The website www.as.wvu.edu.com states that to use reinforcement affectively, you must be aware of the following difficulties in application:

1. It is difficult to identify rewards and punishments 2. You must control all sources of reinforcement 3. Punishing is difficult to do well 4. Students may come to hate coaches who use punishment. 5. It is easy to reinforce one pigeon, but a whole flock? My third objective is the optimum way to issue and implement reinforcement as a means of teaching others how to play within lessons.

The website www.as.wvu.edu.com states that the correct conditions for issuing reinforcement are: 1. The source (coach) is well-trained in the theory and practice of reinforcement. 2. The source has complete control of all significant reinforcers for all receivers. 3. The source has complete control of each receiver (i.e. what the receiver does, when the receiver does it, what other receivers are in the situation). 4. The source has a detailed and consistent plan of reinforcement. 5. The reinforcers are always delivered under the same conditions to each different receiver.


From study literature material I have come to the conclusion that an example of positive reinforcement in a netball match would be: a netballer receiving praise or a bonus for scoring a goal therefore motivating them to try a similar method of scoring next time. An example negative reinforcement would be the same player does not receive a bonus or gets the bonus taken away from them when they fail to score a goal. They therefore become motivated to score a goal to gain the reward again. It is evident that any performer requires reinforcement, a form of feedback to develop in their activity. This information is a clear manifestation of the fact that reinforcement seeks to build upon the positive aspects of a performance and eliminate the negative aspects.

According to the ‘rules of consequence’ certain behaviours lead to certain consequences, for example a netballer playing the position of wing defence jumps and intercepts the ball. However the do-get only works in certain situations so for example, a child may discover that when she is with her parents (When) and she throws a temper tantrum (Do), she embarrasses them and they give her Rewards such as attention, toys or candy (Get).

Now when this child hits school and tries this trick, she is cruelly disappointed when the teacher provides a Punishing Consequence rather than a Rewarding Consequence. She soon learns that Tantrum —> Reward only works when she is with Mum and Dad. Using the example of the netballer, she must learn the correct timing so that she can make an active decision to jump as the ball is passing her and therefore have a chance of intercepting the ball. Therefore when you are in a situation by carrying out a behaviour you will get a consequence, and there are only three consequences, Rewarding, Punishing, and Ignoring.

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