Instrumental conditioning is another term for operant conditioning, a learning process first described by B. F. Skinner. In instrumental conditioning, reinforcement or punishment are used to either increase or decrease the probability that a behavior will occur again in the future.
For example, if a student is rewarded with praise every time she raises her hand in class, she becomes more likely to raise her hand again in the future. If she is also scolded when she speaks out of turn, she becomes less likely to interrupt the class. In these examples, the teacher is using reinforcement to strengthen the hand-raising behavior and punishment to weaken the talking out of turn behavior.
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