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Kendra Cherry

Positive Punishment - Psychology Definition of the Week

By August 10, 2012

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positive punishment

Definition: Positive punishment can be one of the most confusing terms for psychology students to learn. After all, how can punishment be positive? When we are talking about operant conditioning, it is important to remember that positive and negative don't mean "good" or "bad." Instead, positive is used to refer to the addition of something to a situation, while negative involves taking something away.

So, in the case of positive punishment, it means adding an aversive stimulus after a behavior in order to decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. Because of this, positive punishment is sometimes referred to as punishment by application. Learn more in this overview of positive punishment.

Image courtesy Piotr Bizior


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