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operant conditioningoperantes Konditionierung (ger.)

  • Conditioning in which an animal forms an association between a particular behaviour and a result that reinforces the behaviour, its behaviour being operant (or instrumental) in producing the result. For example, a bird that turns over dead leaves may find food beneath them, so it may come to associate turning over dead leaves with finding food. The process may be negative, as when an animal learns to associate a particular activity with an unpleasant result. (Oxford Dict. of Ecology 2010)
    Confusion, both in organizing and in interpreting experimentation, arises, according to Skinner (125), from failure to distinguish between two types of conditioned response, the »respondent type«, in which the response is elicited by some specific stimulus (this is the classical type of conditioning), and the »operant type«, which is emitted, as it were, by the organism, which is not made to a specific stimulus, and which involves the reinforcement of the response. Since then Skinner (124) elaborated his position in a nonneural, exclusively behavioral description of the learning process. Emphasis was laid upon operant conditioning in a conception of learning which is nearest like that of Tolman.
    Brownell, W.A. (1939). Theoretical aspects of learning and transfer of training. Rev. Educat. Res. 9, 255-273: 261; cf. Skinner, B.F. (1937). Two types of conditioned reflex: a reply to Konorski and Miller. J. Gen. Psychol. 16, 272-279: 274; id. (1953). Science and Human Behavior (New York 1956): 66.
    Statements which use such words as ›incentive‹ or ›purpose‹ are usually reducible to statements about operant conditioning
    Skinner (1953). Science and Human Behavior (New York 1956): 87; cf. Ringen, J. (1976). Explanation, teleology, and operant behaviorism: a study of the experimental analysis of purposive behavior. Philos. Sci. 43, 223-253.