Operant conditioning is a form of learning where behaviors for individuals are modified by their consequences. Different occupations are associated with different behaviors. It is extremely fundamental to understand the difference between various situations and how they may be resolved. Following the uniqueness of various occupations there are solutions that are outlined to solve issues as they arise in different situations. Depending on the problem either Positive or Negative Reinforcement, Positive and Negative Punishment, Shaping, Extinction, Generalization, or Discrimination may be undertaken as a solution.
In most cases, related behaviors will attract similar solutions. Since different problems may be intertwined, they may be served by the same solution. However, before a solution is given, critical evaluation of the problem needs be undertaken.
Workplace is one of the sectors where behavior is highly upheld. This means various solutions are used to resolve problems like absenteeism, quarrels and irresponsibility among employees in an organization.
Operant conditioning is a form of learning where a person’s behavior is modified by its consequences. The change in behavior for an individual may be determined in its strength, form, and frequency. Operant conditioning has various influences depending on an occupation. One of the fields in which operant conditioning has been extensively influential is at the workplace. Like in any other place, operant conditioning is both negatively and positively influential at workplace.
One of the advantages of operant conditioning is positive reinforcement. At work place, there are certain ethical behaviors that needs be upheld by all employees. Once a negative habit has been noticed in an individual it gets cautioned, and the individual is left to consider a change for proper habit at work. Provoking certain behavior in an individual may have a positive impact on the individual as well as the organization in which the individual works. This comes with the individual learning how to uphold unimpeachable morals as it is dictated by the ethical conditions of the organization (Ackerman, 1972). This may be extremely significant to the organization as it may positively influence respect for certain organizational-ethical principles.
The second merit for operant conditioning is the enhancement of motivation in an organization. As a form of learning for different parties in an organization, operant conditioning offers an individual the ability to learn from certain mistakes and come up with outstanding skills of moving on with certain forms of behavior. Motivation comes with yearning for positivity in an organization (Kimmel, 1960). With ample ability to correct employees in the right manner in an organization it becomes extremely easy keep the entire organization positive about the performance of the organization in comparison to other organizations.
The third merit is the ability of operant conditioning to discourage some ill behaviors at a workplace that may negatively influence the performance for individuals. Among the elements that are discouraged by operant conditioning include absenteeism from work, and low productivity. Operant conditioning aims at reducing ill behaviors among individuals (Henton & Iversen, 1978). Therefore, it will have extensive positive influence among people in a given workplace. This may be referred to as the extinction merit of operant conditioning.
The first demerit of operant conditioning is negative reinforcement. This is a situation where instead of a certain ill behavior being corrected, any step to improve the situation makes it worse. At some point, employees gain certain traits from their interaction with certain ill behaviors. As the employer tries to uproot certain ill behaviors, it becomes extremely difficult since the more he or she tries to eradicate the ill character the more difficult it becomes for him or her. For example, if the employer uses the wrong method of discouraging employees from being consistently absent he or she will be attracting more absenteeism among the employees (Kimmel, 1960). In return, consistent absenteeism will be an avenue for discouraging extensively high productivity for any organization.
The second weakness of operant conditioning is based on the punishment nature that may be defined when an individual refuses to adhere to certain principles of behavior. In most cases, punishment does not bring the intended solution. One of the ill effects of punishments is that they create habits among individuals. Consistent punishment for employees will make them used to certain sets of behavior. This means that certain ill behavior will remain common among employees, and it will be practically impossible to deal with the problem in future (Reynolds, 1968).
However, the punishment may not only affect the employee being punished, but it will have extensive impact among the rest of the employees in the organization. It will become extremely hard for the employee to sustain certain code of conduct since through consistent punishment for certain issues without response by employees will have led to building up of some unethical behaviors in the organization. Among the traits that may be encouraged through consistent punishment are absenteeism and irresponsibility at the line of duty (Ackerman, 1972). Therefore, punishment will not always foster positive impact to a problem.
Training a new sales staff who is fresh from school and he, or she is in his or her first job may be undertaken through shaping as an operant conditioning solution. This is a type of operant conditioning solution where at an increasing rate, accurate measures for desired response are enhanced (Staddon & Cerutti, 2003). A fresh employee who has never been to any employment needs to be confined to certain sets of ethical behaviors. However, these behaviors must be in line with certain ethics of the organization. Therefore, the trainer has to be extremely keen and has extensive ability to foster discipline to the new employee and prepare him or her for different circumstances that are likely to arise as the new employee continues to learn more principles of work.
Absenteeism at the workplace is an extremely common problem in different organizations. High level of absenteeism after a long weekend; staff taking urgent leave or medical leave may be resolved through negative punishment. Operant conditioning dictates that punishment is a consequence that makes a behavior take place with minimal frequency. It is clear that absenteeism will lead to low performance in an organization. This means that the organization has to be extremely cautious on how it addresses issues of absenteeism. If the employee does not pass strict measures on the ill behavior in the organization, it is likely that the problem will become rampant in the organization (Staddon & Cerutti, 2003). However, with punishment the problem will have to come to an end.
Surfing the internet and accessing social networking during work hours has become an issue at workplace. However, it needs be treated in the right context since it may be a problem to an organization. Positive and negative reinforcements may be outstanding solutions to the problem. It would be wise to understand that reinforcements will always encourage a behavior. In this case, social networking and internet are extremely significant elements in the definition of a successful organization (Henton & Iversen, 1978). Therefore, there is need to enhance the behavior as it may be a platform to increase on sales or productivity of the organization.
In an organization, employees are required to maintain proper relationship among each other. However, this is not always the case as individuals will from time to time quarrel over certain issues. Some staff members will become rude and uncooperative towards their colleagues. According to operant conditioning this may be resolved through generalization. This is where the two issues of quarreling and uncooperative nature of some employees will result into a certain ill behavior (Reynolds, 1968). Therefore, there is need to fight the behaviors by generalizing them into equal negative results. Generalization will ensure that the affected employees change for the best.
Ackerman, J. M. (1972). Operant conditioning techniques for the classroom teacher. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman.
Henton, W. W., & Iversen, I. H. (1978). Classical conditioning and operant conditioning: a response pattern analysis. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Kimmel, H. D. (1960). Operant Conditioning Of The Gsr. Psychological Reports, 7(7), 555.
Reynolds, G. S. (1968). A primer of operant conditioning. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman.
Staddon, J. E., & Cerutti, D. T. (2003). Operant Conditioning. Annual Review of Psychology, 54(1), 115-144.