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Positive Reinforcement

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Updated March 24, 2009

Definition:

In behaviorism, positive reinforcement occurs when a reward, sometimes called a reinforcer, is given for a specific desired behavior. Other behaviors, even those that are negative, are simply ignored. Over time, this will lead to an increase in the desired behavior.

Positive reinforcement must be individualized to the specific person receiving it. What reinforces one person’s behavior may not have the same effect on someone else.

Examples:
Despite a driving phobia, Carla was able to drive to the mall in order to shop at her favorite store. The experience of shopping was positive reinforcement for the act of driving.
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