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Kendra Cherry

Negative Punishment - Psychology Definition of the Week

By September 30, 2011

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negative punishment

Definition: Learning to distinguish between the two different types of punishment (negative punishment and positive punishment) can be difficult for many students. In operant conditioning, it is important to remember that the word positive is used to indicate that something is being added, while the word negative is used to indicate that something is being taken away.

In the case of negative punishment, a desirable stimulus is taken away following a behavior in order to reduce the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. For example, after a child gets in a fight with his sister over a new toy, his mother might take the toy away as punishment. Negative punishment is sometimes referred to as punishment by removal. Learn more in this overview of negative punishment.

Image courtesy Piotr Bizior


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