In behavior modification, four types of reinforcement are available to help managers influence behavior: positive reinforcment, negative reinforcement, extinction, punishment. Positive and negative reinforcement are aimed at increasing a behavior, while extinction and punishment focus on decreasing a behavior. Skinner argued that positive reinforcement and extinction encourage individual growth, whereas negative reinforcement and punishment are likely to foster immaturity in individuals and eventually contaminate the entire organization.
Aimed at increasing a desired behavior, positive reinforcement involves providing pleasant, rewarding consequence to encourage that behavior. The rewarding consequence, such as praise, a raise, or time off, is said to be positive reinforcer if it leads to repetition of the desired behavior. Since individuals differ in regard to what they find pleasant and rewarding, managers need to monitor the effects of a particular reinforcer to determine wether it is effective in encouraging the desired behavior.
Because individuals frequently do not execute a new behavior exactly as required when they first try it, managers often find it useful to encourage a new behaviors through shaping. Shaping is the succesive rewarding of behaviors that closely approximate the desired response until the actual desiered response is made.
Negative reinforcement focuses on increasing a desired behavior, but it operates in a different way. Negative reinforcement involves providing noxious (unpleasant) stimuli so that an individual will engang in the desired behavior in order to stop the noxious stimuli.in other words, the desired behavior is reinforced in a negative way because the individual must engage in the behavior in order to get rid of an unpleasant condition.
Extinction involves withholding previously available positive consequences associated with a behavior in order to decrease that behavior. Suppose that the first few times an employee engages in clowning behavior during staff meeting, the managers laughs. The laughter might tend to reinforce the clowning to such a point that the behavior becomes disruptive. The employee’s clowning behavior would be gradually extinguished if the manager proceeded to refrain from (withhold) laughing in response to it.
Involves providing negatives consequences in order to decrease or discourage a behavior. Punishment differs from negative reinforcement in at least two important ways. First punishment aims to decrease or discourage an undesirable behavior, whereas negative reinforcement attempts to increase or encourage a desirable behavior. Second, punishment is usually applied after the individual has angaged in an undesirable behavior.