What is Negative Reinforcement?

What is negative reinforcement and give examples?

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In my own words, negative reinforcement is when something is taken away and that encourages a certain behavior. This mechanism of conditioning works differently than punishment because both kinds of punishment involve decreasing the chance of a future behavior. I had to read those sections a few times to get it right. It didn’t even make sense the first time I read it. I thought I was going insane. Anyway, to use the example of rats…if a researcher were to apply an electrical charge to the rat until it entered the maze that would qualify as a negative reinforcer. See, in the example the stimulus of the electrical charge was only withheld when the animal did the desired action, thereby negatively reinforcing the behavior. Now the rat is more likely to enter the maze in order to avoid the electrical shock. In this way entering the maze becomes much more likely because the electrical shock is withheld when the animal enters the maze. Although I will say that classical conditioning is at work even in this example. The rat will probably begin to associate outside the maze (UCS) with the shock (CS). The rat might then exhibit signs of a phobia (CR) of the outside of the maze. 

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Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2005). Psychology (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


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