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4 Tutorials that teach Operant Conditioning: The Basics
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Operant Conditioning: The Basics

Operant Conditioning: The Basics

Author: Barbara Ludins

This lesson will explain the basic concepts of response chaining, shaping and extinction in operant conditioning & how operant conditioning occurs through examination of B.F. Skinner's box experiment.

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Terms to Know
BF Skinner

American psychologist, worked primarily with animals in the 1950’s - 1970’s.

Law of Effect

Edward Thorndike’s concept that if consequences to our actions are pleasant we are likely to repeat our action (strengthen the association), and if the consequences are unpleasant we are not likely to repeat the action (weakening the association).

Operant Conditioning

Learning that occurs through the association of consequences to behaviors.

Operant Extinction

The relationship between the consequences of a behavior and the behavior itself disappears and a person doesn’t perform doesn’t perform a behavior in a situation.

Operant Reinforcer

Anything that follows a response and makes it more likely for that response to be repeated.

Response Chaining

Behaviors are linked together in response to a single reinforcement.


Gradual learning of responses into a desired behavior.

Skinner Box (chamber)

A simple box with a lever/button and a place to dispense food where an animal is placed and the rate of the lever being pushed is recorded; a.k.a. a Skinner box.