Observational Learning

Learning exposes individuals to different concepts that influence their thought processes and interactions with other people. Significantly, infants acquire behavior traits demonstrated by individuals in their surroundings because of their ability to learn through observation. From this realization, people are encouraged to adopt behavior traits that inspire positivity because of their impact on other individuals in their immediate environment. B.F. Skinner is among the psychologists who have had a significant effect on cognitive development and applying theories that demonstrate individuals’ thought processes in their immediate environment. Hence, observational learning is influenced by the nature of activities taking place in one’s immediate environment and individuals’ ability to grasp the contextual experience and utilize the insights during their interactions with other people.

An Overview of Operant Conditioning

According to Skinner, individuals can acquire certain behaviors by associating outcomes with the consequences they will attract upon failure. In this regard, the operant conditioning theory places a reinforcer in the center of all interactions because of their role in shaping an individual’s behavior. Simultaneous experiments have demonstrated that nonverbal organisms can also form specific actions due to their exposure to the operant conditioning theory, which shapes their focus towards accomplishing the outlined goals and objectives. In one instance, Skinner’s experiment was used to shape pigeon’s behavior, where they would recognize human faces, which were used as a discriminative stimulus. From this realization, continued exposure to different groups of objects compelled the pigeons to differentiate human faces from other aspects used in the research.

A Description of my Example

In my experience, my father was adamant in fulfilling my requests because of my demanding nature that interfered with his schedule. For instance, I would want to visit a recreational facility in my local town on a Saturday afternoon when my father was busy enjoying his time. My constant pressure would compel my father to give in and drop his activities because of the need to get rid of my consistent nagging, which was annoying. In this case, my behavior was reinforced because of its ability to meet my desired objectives. Likewise, my father’s reaction was also supported because of his ability to avoid the nagging that would interfere with his schedule and invoke his emotional tolerances. Both scenarios demonstrated the impact of reinforced behavior and their ability to shape people’s expectations when confronted by situations that require a specific reaction (Myers & DeWall, 2014). Even though my behavior was positively reinforced, my father’s response was negatively reinforced because of his desire to avoid my nagging. Despite the nature of the reaction, my father still took me to the recreational facility because of our relationship and his desire to make things work.

A Discussion of the Insights Gained in Class

Positive and negative reinforcement are concepts used in operant conditioning theory to demonstrate the behaviors adopted by individuals to satisfy a specific need. For example, my nagging behavior manifests positive reinforcement while my father’s reaction shows negative reinforcement, which influences the approaches of individuals when confronted by different scenarios in their immediate environment. In our learning interactions, I discovered various aspects that play a significant role in the quality of relations between individuals. When learning about a reinforcement schedule, individuals are expected to define and identify the frequency in which the desired response will be reinforced.

Depending on the nature of outcomes, individuals align their interests with the expected results, which defines their behavior. For instance, in the previous scenario with my father, I used positive reinforcement to influence his thought process and compelled him to take me to a recreational facility without any prior arrangements. In response, my father was aware of the impact his reaction would have on my nagging process, and as such, his compliance with my requests was influenced by his desire to avoid any further confrontations that would affect his moods. The punishment aspect would come in when my father was busily involved in his activities. I would fail to understand his inability to fulfill my requests because of his tight schedule. Positive and negative punishments are used to decrease behavior and distract individuals from demonstrating their interest in their preferred behavior. Hence, Skinner’s theory is primarily influenced by the concept of reinforcement and punishment, which define the behavior adopted by individuals in their surroundings.


Observational learning is influenced by the nature of activities taking place in one’s immediate environment and individuals’ ability to grasp the contextual experience and utilize the insights during their interactions with other people. Likewise, Skinner’s operant conditioning theory enables people to understand the behavior of individuals and their ability to conform to different expectations and insights acquired through learning. When individuals are exposed to a learning environment, they develop certain behavior traits reinforced during their interactions with the instructor and their peers. Teachers may use positive and negative punishment approaches to discourage students from engaging in certain activities. For this reason, my ability to understand Skinner’s theory is strongly influenced by its relativity in my childhood experience.




Myers, D. G., & DeWall, C. N. (2014). Exploring psychology in modules: Special update for DSM-5. Worth Pub.

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