Schedules Of Reinforcement Essay

1121 words - 4 pages

The schedule of reinforcement has many variables, as well as many ways behavior is reinforced. In order to completely create reinforcement schedule the person must understand the behavior that they wish to change. In my case, the behavior that I wish to change is eating habits. In this paper, I will explore the different schedules of reinforcement and how each would work towards changing my behavior, as well as cause weight loss. My eating habits are very easy to explain, I eat when I am hungry which is not very often. This causes my body to store whatever nutrients I do take in, as well as any fat. This way of eating, in addition to medications I have and am taking make it extremely hard to lose any weight.

The first reinforcement schedule to explore is continuous interval reinforcement. The way this is done is by strengthening the behavior by rewards each time it occurs (Feldman, 2011). As Skinner hypothesized the rapid depletion of rewards, in Skinner’s case food pellets, can and should be taken for granted (Morgan, 2010). In my case, a continuous reinforcement of eating healthily would not be ideal because the reinforcement desired is weight loss. With continuously losing weight comes many health problems, especially if the drop is brisk. Another problem with continuously strengthening that behavior is the rewards themselves begin to mean little.

The next reinforcement schedule the Skinner developed is the partial reinforcement schedule, meaning behavior is strengthened with a reward only part of the time (Feldman, 2011). The partial schedule of reinforcement is further divided into four different categories, the fixed ratio, variable ratio, fixed interval, and variable interval. The fixed ratio schedule is where after so many responses then the reward is given. In my case, the fixed ratio would be the number of calories per pound of weight loss. In order to lose weight, I would need to limit the amount of calories taken in, as well as increase the amount of calories burned in a day. After I figured out at what rate I would lose one pound, I would then be able to develop a plan in which a set number of calories were eaten and burned each day.

With variable ratio intervals the amount of calories taken in would hinge upon the amount of activity in a day. By rationing the amount of calories to the amount of activity, the weight loss would be negligible because as with continuous reinforcement, there would be days in which the calories taken in would be zero and my body would then begin to hold whatever calories I did take in.

The next category is the fixed interval meaning that the time that I would eat is fixed. There would be a set schedule and the reward for sticking to it would be weight loss. The problem with the fixed interval reinforcement schedule is that real life would soon intrude on the interval in which I ate. Having set times for anything is not a solution because my lifestyle does not support a schedule that is...

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