Reinforcement: Positive Versus Negative


Video Example: Emma has difficulty completing her mathematics classwork. To increase her classwork completion, Emma’s teacher decides to use negative reinforcement. In the video below, the teacher temporarily removes the aversive task (i.e., completing mathematics problems) by allowing Emma to take a short break. After the break, she will complete five more math problems, alternating between classwork and breaks until she has completed the task. Over time, the teacher will gradually require her to complete more problems before getting a break. The goal is for Emma to complete the classwork without a break (time: 0:39).

Teacher: Okay Emma, you need to start working on your math problems.
Emma: I don’t want to do it.
Teacher: Okay Emma, just do five problems. Then you can take a break.
Emma: Fiiiiiine.
[Emma works problems on her worksheet.]
Emma: All done.
Teacher: Great! Read a book for five minutes and then do five more math problems.