The theory of classical conditioning grew out of the famous experiments conducted on dogs by the Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov.
When he gave the dog a piece of meat, it would start salivating.
The piece of meat was the unconditioned stimulus and the salivation the unconditioned response .
Next, he just rang a bell, which naturally did not cause the dog to salivate.
In subsequent experiments, he gave the dog a price of meat when a bell was rung . After this process was repeated several times, the dog began to associate the ringing of the bell with meat.
Pavlov found that the dog would start salivating at the mere ringing of the bell , even when it was not given any meat.
The dog developed a conditioned response (i.e. salivation ) to a conditioned stimulus (i.e. the ringing of a bell ), which was previously a neutral stimulus .
Classical conditioning , can therefore be defined as a process in which a formerly neutral stimulus, when paired with an unconditioned stimulus, becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits a conditioned response.
Operant conditioning or reinforcement theory has been associated with the work of B. F. Skinner. Skinner designed an apparatus called the “Operant Chamber” or the “Skinner Box’’ to understand learned behavior in animals.
The Skinner Box has a lever, which on pressing, drops a pellet of food.
A hungry rat was placed in the Skinner box. Soon, it started exploring and sniffing around, looking for food.
It eventually pressed the lever by accident and received a pellet of food .
The rat soon learned to associate pressing of the lever with the reward of food . This reward acted as a reinforcing factor.
This form of learning, which is based on trial and error, is called operant conditioning .
According to reinforcement theory, behavior is repeated depending on the reinforcement or lack of reinforcement brought about as a consequence of a particular behavior.
Behavior is strengthened and is likely to be repeated if it is reinforced .
Skinner argued that the frequency of specific forms of behavior could be increased if they were followed by pleasant consequences.
Positive reinforcement would establish a particular pattern of behavior. He also argued that the effectiveness of rewards is at its highest when they are given immediately after the desired behavior is exhibited . Similarly, when behavior is not rewarded or punished, the chances of such behavior being repeated are less.
Operant conditioning differs from classical conditioning in many ways. The most important differences between the two are given below.
The strength and frequency of classically conditioned behaviors are determined by the environmental event that precedes the behavior . In operant conditioning , it is the environmental event following the behavior that determines the strength and frequency of the behavior. That is to say, in operant conditioning, what happens as a consequence of the response determines the behavior of individuals.
In the classical conditioning process, the unconditioned stimulus that serves as a reward is presented every time . In operant conditioning the reward is given only when the organism gives the correct response. This requires the organism to operate on the environment to receive a reward.
Examples of Classical and Operant Conditioning Obtains incentives and gifts Achieves sales targets Attracts no penalty for delayed payment Pay loan instilments promptly Finds it convenient for shopping Carries a credit card Saves money on electricity bill Uses power carefully Obtains desired information Browses the Internet The individual (S) Stimulus (R) Response Operant Conditioning Jumps and screams in pain steps on a nail Hums and rocks gently hears good music Moves away touches a hot vessel Jumps with job watches favorite tennis player winning a tournament (R) Response (S) Stimulus The individual Classical Conditioning
Edward Tolman, a pioneering theorist in the field of cognitive psychology, stated that cognitive learning consists of a relationship between cognitive environmental cues and expectation .
Rats were allowed to run through a complicated maze in search of food. The food was placed at certain points in the maze. When the rats came across the food, they began to associate the presence of food with certain cognitive cues. As a result, learning took place.
This learning of the association between the cue and expectation is termed S-S (Stimulus-Stimulus) learning .
Nowadays, cognitive psychology focuses on the structures and processes of human competence, like the role of memory and information processing in learning .
Expectations, attributions, locus of control, and goal setting are all cognitive concepts .
Social Learning Theory
This theory states that there is more to learning than just the antecedent stimulus and dependent consequences. This theory assumes that leaning can also take place through vicarious or modeling processes and self-control processes.
1. Modeling processes
Observational learning is the essential component of vicarious or modeling processes. Behavior acquisition through the modeling process cannot be directly attributed to either classical or operant conditioning. Learning need not result always from S-R or R-S connections.
People could learn from others and that such learning took place in two steps:
Through observation a person acquires a mental picture of an act carried out by someone and its consequences.
Then the person enacts the acquired image.
If the consequences turn to be positive, the behavior is repeated ; otherwise, it is discontinued.
People with high self-efficacy, that is, people who think they can perform a task well, usually do better than people with low self-efficacy.
There is a fairly clear relationship between self-efficacy and work related performance.
PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING
The most important principles of learning are reinforcement and punishment.
Reinforce means to strengthen, and the term ‘reinforcement’ refers to a stimulus which strengthens the probability of a particular response being repeated.
Appreciating the good work of an employee and awarding promotions or raises are examples of commonly used reinforcers in organizations .
Positive reinforcement increases the chances that a particular behavior would be repeated because it results in a desirable consequence.
In negative reinforcement, the individual repeats a behavior not because he wants to but because he wants to avoid a negative consequence.
Another method of managing behavior involves the use of punishments . Punishments are sometimes wrongly considered to be the opposite of reinforcement.
It usually involves withdrawing a desirable consequence or applying an undesirable one.
Law of Effect
Edward L. Thorndike believed that learning involved forming bonds between stimuli and responses .
The Law of Effect states that responses followed by pleasant consequences are more likely to be repeated while responses following by unpleasant consequences are less likely to be repeated.
Some employee do not learn from failures (on the job) as they have high self-efficacy.
Meaning of Reinforcement
Reinforcement is defined as anything that tends to increase the intensity of a response and also induces the person to repeat the behavior which was followed by reinforcement.
A reward is something which is given or done in recognition of an individual’s achievements or performance.
From a functional perspective something is reinforcing only if it strengthens the response preceding it , thus inducing the response to be repeated.
Positive reinforcement strengthens and increases the likelihood of a particular behavior being repeated because a desirable consequence is presented.
Negative reinforcement also strengthens and increases the probability of a particular behavior being repeated, but by withdrawing an undesirable consequence.
Positive and negative reinforcers and punishment
Behavior Suppressed Stimulus Presented Stimulus Removed or withheld Behavior Encouraged Difference Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement and Punishment PUNISHMENT Example: no access to recreation facilities or e- mailing system for a week. NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT Example: calling off strike and resuming work to avoid being dismissed PUNISHMENT Example: suspension of the employee POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT Example; good performance rating
The O. B. Mod process focuses on the following aspects:
The influence of the environment on employee behavior.
The antecedent cues or condition that precede a behavior.
The consequence of a particular behavior .
The impact of the behavior on performance effectiveness.
Only those behaviors which are tangible, observable, measurable, and repeatable can be improved by means of the O. B. Mod process.
This process has been shown to reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, decrease costs, reduce defective output and improve safety.
Steps in the O. B. Mod Process The O. B. Mod process uses the reinforcement theory to make employees behave in the desired manner. Identify Identify the critical behaviors which have a significant impact on the individual’s performance, and therefore on the organization’s performance Measure Determine the number of times a particular behavior is exhibited before using any managerial intervention to modify that behavior. Flowchart of Steps in the O. B. Mod Process Analyze Determine the antecedent cues responsible for a particular behavior and also the consequences that maintain the behavior. Intervene Design an appropriate strategy to encourage desirable behavior and discourage undesirable behavior Evaluate Assess the effectiveness of the intervention (checking whether the intervention really improved performance of the organization) based on various parameters.
1. Identifying critical performance behaviors 2. Measuring the Critical performance behaviors 3. Carrying out a functional analysis of the behaviors 4. Developing an effective intervention strategy 5. Evaluation of the intervention strategy to ensure performance improvement The steps in the O. B. Mod Process are as follows:
1) Only performance behaviors can be measured through the OB Mod Process-absenteeism, tardiness, promptness,
2) Base-line measure is obtained by determining the number of times a particular behavior is exhibited- frequency of occurrence
3) A-B-C Model
4) a) Positive reinforcement strategy-money, attention, recognition, feedback,
b) Punishment-positive reinforcement strategy
5) Four levels of evaluation: reaction, learning, behavioral change, performance improvement- turnover, absenteeism, customer complaints, employee grievances, no. of clients served, rate of ROI,