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Positive and Negative Punishment

Positive and Negative Punishment

The goal of any punishment is to reduce negative behavior. Positive punishment involves presenting an unfavorable event after the subject has exhibited an unwanted behavior (Silva, 2019). A negative action is applied purposefully if the subject does an unwanted action. This concept is sometimes hard to remember because it seems to be contradictory. Someone might wonder why punishment is considered to be positive. The most basic way to remember this concept is to add an aversive stimulus. Another person can intentionally apply positive punishment. However, it can also occur as a natural consequence of an individual’s action. For instance, if someone receives a negative outcome due to their action, they may be less likely to engage in the behavior in question in the future, even though positive punishment can be useful. It should be first assessed since it can lead to negative effects.

The first example of positive punishment is when at a workplace, an employee, instead of concentrating on his work, is busy using his time to call his friends and surf the internet for unrelated work issues. The supervisor then calls him to his office and reprimands him for his actions by scolding him verbally. He reminds him of the rules and policies that govern operations in the workplace and warns him of the consequences if he is found engaging in that behavior again. In this case, the positive punishment is verbal scolding. This employee will remember this scolding the next time he feels like using his phone at the workplace and will hopefully not do it.

The second example of positive punishment is when a teacher sees two students giggling instead of concentrating in the lecture hall. The teacher decides to punish the students by taking them to detention. In this scenario, detention is the positive punishment for the unwanted behavior of texting in class. When the students want to talk in class, they will remember about detention, and hopefully, they will not giggle.

Negative punishment involves taking away something desirable to reduce the behavior’s occurrence in question (Cherry, 2019 ). The aim is to ensure the subject does not repeat the behavior. It is punishment by removal. Negative punishment is highly effective, but its success is dependent on factors such as when it is applied immediately after the behavior when applied consistently. One of the major problems with negative punishment is that even though it might reduce the behavior, it does not give any instructions on more appropriate reactions. There is also a possibility of the behavior returning if the punishment is withdrawn.

The first example of negative punishment is when parents set the curfew to arrive home at 6 pm, and the children come back home at 8 pm. The parents will punish them by taking away their phones. The negative punishment here is taking away the phones, which the children value, to ensure they do not violate the curfew again.

The second example of negative punishment is when a sales and marketing agent fails to meet the set sales target per month. The human resource manager then calls her and deducts her pay for these actions. The negative punishment here is the deduction of the salary for failing to meet sales targets, which is undesirable behavior. This action hopes that the sales and marketing agent will meet sales targets in the next market.


Cherry, K. (2019). What is operant conditioning and how does it work. How reinforcement and punishment modify behavior. Verywell Mind.

Silva, E. (2019). Evaluating the effects of and preference for positive and negative punishment in the Good Behavior Game (Doctoral dissertation).


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Positive and Negative Punishment

For this assignment, complete the following:

  • Define both positive and negative punishment. Be sure to explain how they are similar and how they are different in your definitions. Provide two real-world, detailed examples of how positive punishment could be used to decrease behaviors you would like to see occur less often. Also, provide two real-world, detailed examples of how negative punishment could be used to decrease behaviors you would like to see occur less often.

    Positive and Negative Punishment

    Positive and Negative Punishment

  • For example, a parent may use negative punishment by removing television privileges when his or her child curses. Another parent may use positive punishment by requiring the child to write the sentence “I will use nice words.” 100 times after cursing.
  • Be sure to explain why the examples you chose illustrate that procedure.

Assignment Requirements

  • Written communication: Should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • APA formatting: References and citations are formatted according to current APA style guidelines.
  • Resources: Minimum of 1–2 scholarly or professional resources.
  • Length: 2–4 double-spaced pages, in addition to the title page and reference page.
  • Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.

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