Positive & Negative Reinforcement

     Reinforcement is the act of increasing specific behaviors by adding or taking away stimuli. Reinforcement can be positive or negative, however both help to increase a specific behavior. In positive reinforcement, a desirable stimulus is added to increase a behavior. By introducing motivating or pleasant stimuli after the performance of a behavior, it is likely that the behavior will continue. An example of positive reinforcement is giving a dog a treat after correctly following a command. Positive reinforcement is not only seen in animals but people too. Parents who reward their children with money or candy for completing their chores or receiving good grades are using positive reinforcement. The reward can be used to further encourage that behavior, or change an unwanted behavior.

    Negative reinforcement involves the removal of an undesirable stimulus after the wanted behavior is performed. One of the best examples of negative reinforcement that many individuals can relate to is the sound a car makes when the driver's seatbelt is unbuckled. The annoying beeping sound occurs until the seat belt is buckled, which increases the likelihood that passengers will buckle in the future.

    Additionally, the use of social media has increased rapidly and positive reinforcement helps to explain why. Social media platforms such as facebook, instagram and twitter all include forms of positive reinforcement that keep users engaged with the use of likes, comments, and followers. Individuals who share an image or selfie on Instagram are likely to receive likes and positive comments from their friends and family which only encourages and motivates that person to continue posting. Although the use of social media has introduced several positives including connecting with others and sharing information, it is important to not get caught up in what your life may look like through social media. Instead, it is important to focus on the environment around you and the people you surround yourself with on a regular basis.

Mcleod, S. (2024). Operant conditioning in psychology: B.F. Skinner theory.
Simply Psychology.


University of Central Florida (n.d.). Reinforcement and punishment. General Psychology. https://pressbooks.online.ucf.edu/lumenpsychology/chapter/operant-conditioning/#:~:text=Positi ve%20reinforcement%20is%20a%20process,by%20removing%20an%20undesirable%20conseq uence.


  1. I really liked about your takeaways is how you highlighted the significant role of positive reinforcement in driving the rapid increase in social media use. Your observation that likes, comments, and followers create a cycle of engagement is spot-on and captures the essence of why people keep coming back to these platforms.

  2. I liked the specific explanations of how positive and negative reinforcement works, Very well explained.


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