Author Archives: Muzi Li

Positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement

Positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement

In the Operant Conditioning, it divided into reinforcement and punishment, and there are positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Also, there are positive punishment and negative punishment. Reinforcement is a kind of stimulus that enhance/ increase the probabilities of a certain behavior. We mainly discuss positive reinforcement, which strengthens a response by presenting a typically pleasurable stimulus after a response (Psychology 10th edition, P288). Basically, positive reinforcement is adding a desirable stimulus that will motivate people to increase the probability that engaging the behavior again. A lot of examples can prove my statement. I remember that when I was at primary school, I always missed few points on very easy questions in the exams. It is not terrible but my mother wanted to correct my incaution. She said that whenever I got 100 (full points) in the exams, I could have 10 dollars as prizes. I was stimulated and tried my best to get perfect score in exams. Once I got a perfect score in the exam, my mother will fulfill her promise. Prizes encouraged me to do not make small mistakes but I actually became more circumspective than before.

Let us talk about something related to negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement occurs when a certain stimulus (usually an aversive stimulus) is removed after a particular behavior is exhibited. The likelihood of the particular behavior occurring again in the future is increased because of removing/avoiding the negative consequence (behavioral consulting, Kelley Prince M.A.). Negative reinforcement is not like punishment. Negative reinforcement is removing or reducing bad things by doing something. For example, I would turn on the windscreen wipers when I saw water on my car’s windscreen. The water on the windscreen disturbs my sight and affect driving. I will turn on the windscreen wipers when I drive in the rain to avoid water staying on my windscreen (educateautism, Gavin Cosgrave)

Positive reinforcements and negative reinforcements exist in our lives commonly. Any decisions we make or any behaviors we do may relate to reinforcement.






Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning

  B.F.Skinner is the most influential person in behaviorism, he found out a concept called operant conditioning. It is types of study that the behavior will strengthen when there is reinforcement or the behavior is weaken when followed by s punishment. In operant conditioning, we learn the association between our behavior and the following consequences.

There are many examples are operant conditioning, like students write their homework to win the compliment or reward from their parents, the same way that stuff finish a good project and want to receive the praise or promotion from their boss.

In our family, we have 2 golden retriever and we had them since they are really young and small. We tend to train them how to sit, lie, row, stand up and shake hands. At first these two doggy don’t know what to do, but with time, they seemed to found out, once they do specific behavior after the specific “order”, they will get pat or snack or going out some kind of reward. This is called positive reinforcement in psychology.

In the other way, when the two doggy pee and poo in the wrong place like bedroom or living room, people will shout out loud and will punishment them. With the time and observing the other dog, they all find out that when they pee and poo in the bathroom, they not only will not get punishment but also will get the compliment. so they know how it work and since then, they do their business in the bathroom.

So, this an example in my home, typically a operant conditioning, two dogs associate their behaviors with the results they get, whether is punishment or compliment, with the time past, two doggies what to do after the specific order. The dolphin, tiger or any animals in the zoo go through the operant conditioning. Especially when we saw the dolphin show, when the trainer send out a signal or a hand gesture the dolphin do specific movement and get back to the trainer to have a fish. There are many examples like that all called operant conditioning.

Muzi Li

Nature vs. Nurture

Muzi Li

Psychology 100 Section 3

February 4, 2014

Blog Post #1


Nature vs. Nurture


Nature verses nurture is a hot and old debate topic in psychology for a long time. In common words, the debate is focus on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to the human development. There are two different groups holding their own opinion. One group is leaded by Plato, they states that certain things are inborn, they are naturally appearing despite the outside influences. They believed that all or most of the human behaviors and characteristics are inheritance, or so called nativist. Another group like John Locke pointed out that out mind is a piece of blank paper, according to the surrounding, the influences from the outside, so all or most of our behavior and characteristic are the result of learning, which is called empiricists.

It is common sense that our physical characteristics are definitely inheritance genetically, like the color of our eyes, skin and hair. These factors make people speculate that whether our psychological characteristics such as personality, behavior and mental are naturally born with. As for the nurture, the differences of infants and children are the accumulated result of learning and observing.

For example, here is a question: our sexuality is something that genetically imposed on us that we have no control over, or something else? Nobody knows that he/she is homosexual when he/she was born, but is it nature or nurture; the scientists are still working on that project. Being a homosexual person can be nature, scientist states that the gay people look different from those of heterosexuals. The brain is form when the baby is not born yet, so some people is genetically homosexual. While, people may become homosexual because of the outside environment influence them. Lots friends of mine are homosexual, but they are not at the beginning, for example, a guy likes him and go after him, time to time, he fell in love with that guy and became a guy. That person changed his sexuality because of the experience or so called the influences of the environment and outside factor that is nurture.

In my personal point of view, nothing is absolutely nature or nurture. It could be part of genetically and part of experiencing.



McLeod, Saul. “Nature Nurture in Psychology.” – Simply Psychology. N.p., 2007. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.