Positive and Negative Punishment

In the book introduction to learning and behavior, punishment is defined to involve the weakening of a behavior through the application of an aversive stimulus or the removal of an appetitive stimulus. The book also entails the various kinds of punishments that derive from the basic distinctions of punishments such as positive and negative punishments.  The base of positive punishments consists of the presentation of a certain event following a response, while negative punishments consist of the removal of a certain event following a response. Both positive and negative punishments hope to lead to an eventual decrease in the future strength of the response.

When my oldest son who is 17 years old now was younger, I used to use negative punishment. I putted him in his room on time out for 30 minutes when he did not follow the rules because  when I was growing up we were taught that the longer you put a kid on timeout the faster he will learn. After the time was up and it was time for him to get out of the room he used to get mad and get a bad attitude after the punishment which it made me feel confused and angry and guilty and the more I wanted to put him on time out I felt that it was not working properly. One day after reading about Skinner and Freud I changed the punishment and started to take away his favorite toys instead and got a better response from him after the punishment. He started to understand and be more aware of his behavior. I also started to reward him more often using nice words  such as; great job, outstanding, you are a great super hero and also the token economy method which is also a positive reinforcement, sometimes when he did something good I gave him a candy or got him a new toy and always explained to him why he was getting the reward. He has turned out great and I am very proud of him, thanks God for that. Now with my youngest son who is 6 years old and  has a totally different personality  I still use the same punishment time out but shorter time, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the reason to be on time out and I take away his favorite toys as well as using more the token method as a positive reinforcement. I feel that the results are just as good. 

Here is a link for another example:


  1. Lopez, I also wrote about positive and negative punishment. Your personal story is a great example of these behaviors. I'm sure during that time is was no fun to punish him or take his favorite toys away but it's really cool to see these behaviors work. Thank you for sharing your story.


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