Essay on Operant Behavior - Essay Prowess

Essay on Operant Behavior


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Operant Behavior

An operant conditioning entails a behavior that is controlled by its consequences. For theoretical reasons, an operant behavior must entail a response that can easily be repeated, such as pigeons pecking an illuminated disk or rats pressing a lever. In psychology, this term is used to explain reversible behaviors that are maintained by reinforcement schedules. A reinforcement schedule entails a process that stimulates an individual or animal to repeat the behavior of interest. However, when reinforcement subjects are human beings, weak stimuli must be used, and ethical considerations must be upheld (Staddon & Cerutti n.p). The major difference between an operant behavior and other forms of learning research is that the former focuses on a reversible behavior in such a way that the steady-state pattern in a given schedule is stable. Moreover, the each condition must be maintained for a couple of days in order for it to be locally stable. For example, XAXBXCXD, where by a pattern is established and action X is repeated at a regular interval (Staddon & Cerutti n.p). There are two forms of operant condition, which are internal timing and free-operant choice behavior.

Interval timing is defined as the covariation between independent an independent measure like inter-reinforcement interval or trial time and a dependent measure like wait time. For example, interval time can be the duration that it takes for the action to take place again in the pre-determined sequence of operant conditioning. Moreover, interval timing is liable to time discrimination, especially when on each trial; an organism is exposed to a stimulus and is anticipated to respond differently (Staddon & Cerutti n.p). In psychology, interval timing may occur when a drug of interest is administered to an animal and the cognitive and behavioral changes are assessed. On the other hand, free-operant choice behavior occurs when the subject is deemed to make conscious deliberation and choose between wide ranges of alternatives.

Work Cited

Staddon J. E., and Cerutti D. T., Operant Conditioning. Annu Rev Psychol. 2003; 54: 115–144. Published online 2002 Jun 10. doi:  10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145124. Accessed from,