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Punishment

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Updated April 01, 2009

Definition:

In behaviorism, punishment refers to the consequence for undesired behavior. Punishment can be either negative or positive, depending on the nature of the consequence.

In negative punishment, something that the person desires is taken away. For example, a parent might forbid a child to watch a favorite television show.

In positive punishment, something undesirable is given in response to the behavior. For example, a parent may require a child to wash the dishes.

Although punishment is still relatively common, many experts now believe that reinforcement has more lasting effects. In reinforcement, the focus is on desired behaviors rather than those that are undesirable.

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