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Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is a theory of learning that says behavior is a function of its consequences.


Operant conditioning is a form of conditioning, introduced by B.F. Skinner that attempts to shape behaviour by reinforcing or punishing a response which is spontaneously emitted (rather than elicited as in classical conditioning). The emphasis is on an organism operating on its own environment, e.g. a rat exploring a cage may happen to press a bar. If this behavior produces the reinforcement of a food pellet it will eventually learn how to manipulate its environment to get food whenever it wants. By a careful arrangement of such reinforcements animals can be trained to perform very complex behaviours.

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