Shaping in Operant Conditioning

Shaping is a form of operant conditioning that uses reinforcers to guide behavior towards the desired behavior. Operant conditioning involves learning behaviors through reinforcements. For example, in the clip below shows the science of rat basketball. The trainer shapes the rat’s behavior by reinforcing their positive responses and not rewarding their negative ones. To get a rat to put the ball into the basketball hoop they must go through 3 to 4 months of shaping. First, when the rat learns to touch the ball, the trainer hits the buzzer when they are successful and then gives them a treat. The next step is for the rat to pick up the ball with their teeth and carry it up and down the court. If the rats get it right, they hear the buzzer and receive a treat. In another phase of the shaping process, a platform is added so that the rat can learn how to get the ball into the hoop. Within 3 to 4 months, the rat is trained to compete with another rat in a basketball tournament. It is easy to get the rats to play basketball, but it is harder for them to cooperate.