Psychological Reinforcement – Definition, Types, Importance, Factors Affecting And Examples Of Reinforcement


Psychological Reinforcement – Definition, Types, Importance, Factors Affecting And Examples Of Reinforcement

If a task comes with a reward, the effort, time and dedication we invest in it will vary compared to a task that doesn’t offer any reward. Psychological Reinforcement can be used in the upbringing of humans and some pets. It enhances the trainee’s behavioural attitude towards a particular activity.

Reinforcement is defined as an event that occurs when a stimulus is introduced or withdrawn in response to a behaviour, subsequently leading to an increase in the frequency of that behaviour under similar circumstances.

It is the act of fortifying or promoting something and the condition of being fortified. It is also something that motivates a particular behaviour or action.

Significance/Benefits Of Reinforcement:

  • Enhanced Behavioral attitudes
  • Additional benefits and results.
  • Enhanced abilities and proficiency.
  • Enhanced Wellbeing
  • Reduced likelihood of engaging in negative actions or habits.
  • Self-improvement and development on a personal level.
  • The drive and desire to accomplish additional tasks

Types Of Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement are the two primary forms of reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement encourages the repetition of behaviour by adding a pleasant stimulus after the behaviour has occurred. For example, gifting a child a bicycle after becoming the best in school, patting a dog and a cat getting a bowl of milk for chasing rodents from the house.

Negative Reinforcement:

Negative reinforcement is a technique that involves the removal of an unpleasant stimulus to increase the probability of a behaviour being repeated.

It occurs when something is removed after a particular behaviour has been displayed. For example, Getting up early to drive to work to prevent being late and using sedatives before boarding a plane to alleviate anxiety.

Other types of reinforcement are Punishment, Shaping and Extinction.

Factors Affecting Reinforcement

They are several factors which affect reinforcement. Such factors include:

  • Timing

The duration between the desired behaviour and the reinforcement is the time elapsed. A shorter time interval increases the likelihood of the trainee associating the reinforcement with the behaviour.

On the other hand, if a trainee receives a reward for a commendable action after a two-month delay, they may not establish a connection between the desired behaviour and the outcome. In such cases, the reinforcement loses its significance and effectiveness.

  • Consistency

Consistency is crucial in behaviour modification, whether in a classroom or with a child. When you consistently enforce expectations and follow your promises, your students or child will learn they can trust you.

This, in turn, increases their respect for you and reduces the likelihood of behavioural issues. On the other hand, if you are inconsistent, your child or students may become confused, and it will take longer for them to learn acceptable behaviour. Inconsistency can lead to the child or student not learning the correct behaviour.

  • Intensity

The strength of psychological reinforcement is greatly affected by its intensity. Reinforcement with high intensity is more effective in shaping behaviour than reinforcement with low intensity. When more intense reinforcement increases the chances of the desired behaviour being repeated.

The motivational value of reinforcement is influenced by its intensity. For instance, when a reward is highly desirable, like a significant monetary bonus, it is more likely to encourage individuals to engage in the desired behaviour frequently. Conversely, reinforcement with lower intensity or less appeal may negatively affect behaviour.


Reinforcement is a powerful approach to teaching students, employees, and oneself. It can produce significant outcomes when appropriately applied to the relevant domain. If parents or animal trainers face challenges in achieving a specific behaviour, I suggest employing psychological reinforcement as a useful technique.

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