Positive and Negative Reinforcement/Punishment

I probably like most people thought that positive reinforcement/punishment actually meant that something positive was happening, and negative reinforcement/punishment mean that something negative was happening. Powell et al. (2009) explains that positive reinforcement simply means that the behavior is in response of something being added or presented. Negative reinforcement means that the behavior is in response of something being removed. The real difference between them is when the word reinforcement or punishment is used after them. Positive and negative reinforcement has the same aim which is to increase behavior. A mother that gives a child dessert after doing homework or takes away dessert because the child doesn't do homework still has the same aim, which is to increase the rate of doing homework. A parent taking away car keys because their teenager stayed out late would be negative punishment since the cars keys are being taken away, and they want to extinguish their child's late night partying behavior. Someone given a speeding ticket to decrease their speeding would be positive punishment. These concepts can still be confusing I thought this video below can help clear up the differences between these concepts.


  1. I also found reinforcement and punishments to be very confusing at first but this video really does help me to understand it a lot better

  2. This is one of my favorite topics to learn about. it seems that it is brought up in every Psychology class that I have taken. It is truly amazing how this actually does work. There are just so many examples out there. I really enjoyed the video that you shared as well.


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