Chapter 1: Reinforcement
- A reinforcer is anything that, occuring in conjunction with an act, tends to increase the probability that the act will occur again.
- There are two kinds of reinforcers: positive and negative.
- Reinforcers are relative, not absolute – in order to be reinforcing, it must be something the subject wants or doesn’t want.
- A major point in training with reinforcement is that you can’t reinforce behavior that is not occuring.
- Punishment is what happens when a behavior results in a loss of something desirable or when the behavior results in the undesirable.
- Each instance of negative reinforcement contains a punisher.
- Punishment results in unpredictable outcomes.
- A conditioned reinforcer is some signal combined with the delivery of a reinforcer.
- Reinforcers can also be segmented to communicate: good, keep going, and stop.
- It is useful to have a variety of reinforcers for any training situation.
- Reinforcement lagging behind behavior is the beginning trainers biggest problem.
- The size of the reinforcer should be as small as you can get away with.
- Eighty reinforcers seems to be the maximum for any subject’s interest during any one day.
- Use jackpots – reinforcers 10x normal size for special occasions or randomly.
- Variable reinforcement should be used once a behavior has been learned – except when solving a puzzle or test is involved (1to1).
- Long-duration behaviors can be reinforced with a fixed schedule of reinforcement.
- Reinforce yourself, reinforce everyone.
Chapter 2: Shaping
- Shaping consists of taking a very small tendency in the right direction and shifting it, one small step at a time, toward a goal.
- Shaping is possible because the behavior of living beings is variable.
- Shaping shortcuts include: targeting, mimicry and modeling (helping subject do motion).
Ten Laws of Shaping
- Raise criteria in increments small enough that the subject always has a realistic chance for reinforcement.
- Train one aspect of any particular behavior at a time, don’t try to shape for two criteria simultaneously.
- During the shaping, put the current level of response into a variable schedule of reinforcement before adding or raising criteria.
- When introducing a new criterion, or aspect of a behavioral skill, temporarily relax the old ones.
- Stay ahead of your subject: Plan the shaping program completely so that if the subject makes sudden progress, you are aware of what to reinforce next.
- Don’t change trainers midstream; you can have several trainers per trainee, but stick to one shaper per behavior.
- If one shaping procedure is not eliciting progress, find another; there are as many ways to get behavior as there are trainers to think them up.
- Don’t interrupt a training session gratuitiously, that constitutes punishment.
- If a behavior deterioriates, “go back to kindergarden”; quickly review the whole shaping process with a series of easily earned reinforcers.
- End each session on a high note, if possible, but in any case quit while you’re ahead.
Chapter 3: Stimulus Control
- Anything that causes some kind of behavioral response is called a stimulus.
- Teaching an animal to touch the end of a stick with its nose is an excellent beginning exercise for the new reinforcement trainer.
- Train the behavior first, then provide the cue.
- Cues can be anything that the subject can perceive.
The Rules of Stimulus Control
- The behavior always occurs immediately upon presentation of the conditioned stimulus (the dog sits when told to)
- The behavior never occurs in the absense of the stimulus (during a training or work session the dog never sits spontaneously).
- The behavior never occurs in response to some other stimulus (if you say, “Lie down,” the dog does not offer to sit instead).
- No other behavior occurs in response to the stimulus (when you say “Sit,” the dog does not respond by lying down or by licking)
Chapter 4: Untraining
Eight methods in order, least to most effective.
- Shoot the animal.
- Negative reinforcement.
- Extinction, goes away by itself.
- Train an incompatible behavior.
- Put the behavior on cue.
- “Shape the absence”, reenforce everything but the behavior.
- Change the motivation.
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