Positive and Negative Reinforcement Reinforcement: Essay

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On a personal level, I have tried to condition myself with negative behavior by trying to encourage myself to lose weight by posting an unflattering picture of myself on the refrigerator, to discourage in-between meal snacking. I have to admit that this was initially motivational for me, given that the vision was so unpleasant. However, to condition one's own behavior through negative reinforcement requires a great deal of zeal for such self-punishment. Eventually, I grew tired of looking at the picture and simply removed it. I was similarly unsuccessful in attempting to de-condition myself from selecting unhealthy foods from the cafeteria by putting a photograph of myself at a higher weight in my wallet and forcing myself to look at it before I ate.

The most serious experience I ever had, however, with the difficulties of using negative reinforcement occurred during one of my most difficult trials as a soldier. This took place during the Luby's massacre, a mass murder on October 16, 1991, in Killeen, Texas, United States when George 'Jo Jo' Hennard drove his pickup truck into a Luby's Cafeteria and shot 23 people, wounded another 20, and subsequently committed suicide by shooting himself.

I had just left the restaurant with four friends and was on my way back to Fort Hood when I heard the news on the local radio station. It was a chilling scenario: through this impersonal medium, we all discovered we had lost several friends in the massacre. I had to use both positive and negative reinforcement. Some of my friends wanted to go back and find George Hennard and kill him. They wanted immediate revenge, rather than waiting for justice to take its course.

I had to talk them out of this, using negative reinforcement. I reminded them of the consequences they would suffer. They themselves would go to jail and they would dishonor their position as a soldier by doing so. I even had to restrain one of my friends physically from turning the car around.
Although it did not deteriorate into a physical scuffle, I know that in this instance the negative reinforcement I used, because it was so uncharacteristic and extraordinary in our relationship, was necessary.

Describe (5) situations in which you've observed the use of positive reinforcement. Include in your descriptions what the situation was, where it occurred, the behavior you observed, what reinforcement was used and what was the response.

During basic training, I often witnessed officers using positive reinforcement, such as praise for soldierly conduct or offering new recruits additional responsibilities when they performed their task at a high level. Recruits were already highly motivated, but because praise was doled out very rarely this positive reinforcement seemed much sweeter.

On a smaller level, I have witnessed positive reinforcement in terms of how my nieces and nephews are taught to respect one another. When one of them plays with his or her sibling without fighting, they are always praised, and the behavior is always noted. This complements the negative reinforcement that is necessary sometimes to discipline children. Similarly, in my own childhood, the coaching scenarios I thrived in were ones in which I received positive reinforcement for my successes and efforts through praise and recognition as a 'most improved' player as well as a skilled player. I have also seen children manipulate adults with praise -- for example, saying "I love you" when the adult takes them to McDonald's for dinner, versus eating at home!

In my work, I have also witnessed an American Army female officer talking with an American lower enlisted soldier who was afraid of the combat situation. Both the officer and enlisted man had been involved in a firefight with enemy combatants where several lives were lost. The soldier was frightened of returning to combat. Instead of rebuking him, the officer praised him for his former bravery, and used this to….....

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