The human mind is an amazing device. It thinks, it anticipates, and it responds. Studying human psychology has always fascinated people since ages. How the mind reads a certain stimulus and how it registers it to form a particular response to it is an interesting thing to notice and observe. And many researches have been conducted on this very response to stimuli effect that the mind plays around with. One such aspect is the one that deals with 'reinforcement'. As per leading psychologists, the term 'reinforcement' can be said to be a certain act or stimulus which elicits a desired effect or response. Reinforcement can be divided into two types, namely, positive and negative reinforcement.
What is Negative Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement focuses on granting a favorable stimulus in order to receive the desired response. For instance, a child is permitted to watch television, after he is done with all his homework and chores. In this example, the child is enticed with the positive stimulus of being able to watch TV. Hence, he completes all his work, which was the desired response.
Negative reinforcement is slightly different. In this, an unpleasant stimulus is withdrawn from the equation, once the desired response is generated. For example, a teenager is constantly annoying her brother to let her use his car for a trip to the mall. When he finally lets her use it, she stops annoying him. In this case, the annoying behavior was the stimulus which was withdrawn after the brother gave his car to her, which was the response she expected in the first place. There are many more ways in which negative reinforcement is used, especially in our daily lives.
The reinforcement technique is often used in schools for classroom management. Whether it is positive or negative reinforcement, school authorities and others all around the world, from families to corporates, use this technique to get the expected behavior from people. Here are some classic negative reinforcement examples for children and adults.
Example # 1: A child is told that he will be exempted from doing his chores if he helps out in serving guests at a dinner party.
In this example, the undesirable stimulus of 'doing the chores' is removed, when the child helps in hosting the dinner party. The hosting was the response that was expected of him.
Example # 2: A class is told that they will be kept back for extra classes unless they forgo fifteen minutes of their lunch break for a week.
Here, the stimulus that is taken away is the inconvenience of waiting back after school. The class sacrifices a part of their lunch break, and the syllabus gets completed on time.
Example # 3: An organization decides to declare Saturdays as an official weekly holiday, if the employees complete their targets within the remaining five days of the week.
This is one of the most commonly used negative reinforcement examples at work. With the prospect of avoiding the unpleasant experience of working on a weekend being removed, the employees will make sure that they achieve their targets by Friday. This is what the management required and wanted in the first place.
Example # 4: A woman constantly complaining to her husband about how she needs to take three buses to get to work, and when he buys her a second-hand car, she stops complaining.
In this example, when the man realizes that giving his wife a car will stop her from complaining, it is an occurrence of negative reinforcement. The negative 'complaining' was stopped when the response of getting an easier mode of conveyance was received. Needless to say, that was what the woman was expecting.
There are many more of these that you will now be able to identify and use effectively to get your work done. The technique of using positive and negative reinforcement has proved to be quite efficacious in helping to treat people with anxiety or other mental illnesses. So, do not underestimate its importance. Neither should you misuse it to have your way in everything. Use it wisely, and you will receive what you require.