What is a Removal Punishment?

This is a method in character modification that wipes out nice results that continually allow a behavior in a bid to bring down how much this behavior occurs. Removal punishment is a vital concept in B. F. Skinner’s operant conditioning theory. In behavioral psychology, the objective of punishment is to lower unwanted behavior. One of the most effective ways to understand this concept is to consider that in behavioral terms, negative means taking something away. That’s why negative punishment is often mentioned as “punishment by removal.”

Because negative punishment methods lower the probability of the behavior happening again by eliminating a stimulus, the stimulus has to be essential or pleasant. The subject learns to associate the negative outcome with the behavior.

There’re lots of examples of negative punishment in daily life. Being grounded, losing privileges, losing access to the tablet, and being fined for violating the law are common examples of negative punishment. Some specific situations include:

  •         Giving a driver a parking ticket to stop illegal parking
  •         Taking away a kid’s recess privilege to stop disruption
  •         Charging a late fine to stop individuals from paying their bills late
  •         Taking away a teen’s phone to end the bad attitude
  •         Cutting a kid’s screen time to stop the tantrum
  •         Looking away to remove attention to stop a dog from jumping onto its owner

Removal punishment can be very useful when the following three criteria are met:

Continguity: It refers to the immediacy of the behavior and the stimulus elimination. The behavior’s suppression won’t be as effective if punishment is delayed. When there’s a substantial gap between the behavior and stimulus elimination, the association is weakened. Also, other actions might appear simultaneously, and the behavior then erroneously becomes the one being suppressed.

Contingency: Contingency defines the punishment’s dependent nature on the behavior. If the punishment is given whenever the target behavior happens, the punishment relies on the undesired behavior’s appearance. If the stimulus removal occurs before the behavior or whether it appears or not, then it’s less likely to work.

Consistency: Consistency is crucial for removal punishment to work. Individuals still regularly speed despite the probability of getting a traffic ticket because they don’t receive one each time. They’re only fined if they’re caught, which is why it doesn’t perform well in this case.

One problem of removal punishment is that it works well as long as the stimulus removal remains consistent. But after the punishment stops, the unwanted behavior is highly likely to resume. Another downside is that while it may stop the unwanted behavior, it doesn’t offer information on the desired action. Here’s an example of removal punishment generating an unintended problem. A pupil misbehaves in class, and the instructor takes his/her token gold star away. This penalty might leave a deterring impact on the conduct. But if a kid is misbehaving because he/she is hyperactive or anxious, the punishment doesn’t teach the kid how else to manage the issue. This forceful behavior restraint might lead to emotional or mental problems for the kid.

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