Sample Psychology Essays on Applying Operant Conditioning Principles


Operant Conditioning is a form of learning through reinforcements and punishments to control behavior. The conditioning follows an association between a certain behavior and the consequence of that behavior. Behaviors can yield positive or negative consequences. Positive consequences are normally rewarded to encourage desirable behavior while negative ones are bound to punishments to discourage the unwanted behavior. Operant conditioning aims at strengthening or weakening a behavior based on the consequences of the behavior. Rein forcer operant are designed to increase the likelihood of a behavior repetion whereas punishers operant reduces the probability of repeating a certain behavior. Using the operant conditioning, I tried to change my behavior of submitting assignments beyond due date, to avoid penalty of marks deduction that results to poor grades. The use of appropriate reinforcers or punishers determines the probability of a behavior recurrence.

The conditioning process

Following my consistent poor grades, I analyzed the source of my failure and noted that my poor grades rooted from several assignments marks deductions that were as a result of late assignment submissions. I decided to change my undesired behavior of habitually handing in assignments after due date by the use of negative reinforcement. The negative reinforcement makes a response stronger through removal or reduction of an unpleasant event unlike the positive reinforcement which strengthens a response through addition or presentation of something satisfying after a response; for instance, rewarding an employee who attains best sales in a company by giving him or her bonuses (McLeod, 2018). In my case, handing in late assignments was the unpleasant behavior that needed to be rectified in order to strengthen grades. Steadily, I started to submit assignments on time and continuously maintained the behavior as I monitored the results afterwards.

I chose negative reinforcement since it strengthens the response; good grades, through removal of aversive stimulus; late assignment submission. Handing in of assignments on time was my reinforcer for it steered quality grades. The reinforcer was secondary since good grades achievement was conditioned by handing in assignments on time. I used continuous reinforcement schedule in the operant conditioning to consistently attain good grades. The continuous reinforcement constantly reinforces a certain behavior each time the behavior is displayed (Donors, 2012). Whenever I submit assignments on time, there are no marks deductions thus good grades.


The application of the operant conditioning yielded better grade performance compared to the previous performances. Good grades were exhibited gradually the moment I started submitting assignments on time. The rewarding aspect of good grades was the most effective at changing the handing in assignments after due date behavior. The rewarding aspect was effective since the unpleasant behavior was withdrawn successfully. I could have carried out sufficient research from reliable sources, on given topics of the coursework, within the stipulated time before submitting the assignment. This research extension could have greatly boosted the grades compared to the previous ones.

Operant conditioning shapes behavior through application of appropriate reinforcers or punishers. It is evident that the use of negative reinforcement strengthens a response through the reduction or removal of an action or event which is characteristically unpleasant. For instance, I managed to attain good grades by withdrawing the unpleasant behavior of delay in handing in assignments. With the use of continuous schedule reinforcement, the grades exhibited were constantly remarkable, reinforcing the on-time assignment submission behavior.


McLeod, S. A. (21 Jan. 2018). Skinner – Operant Conditioning. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from (29 Dec. 2012). Changing Behavior through Reinforcement and Punishment: Operant Conditioning. retrieved from