What is the Reinforcement theory 2022? Theory Types and Everything you should know 

What is the Reinforcement theory 2022? Theory Types and Everything you should know


Burrhus Frederic Skinner, more commonly known as B.F. Skinner, was an American psychologist who is most recognised for his ground-breaking views on behaviour. Reinforcement theory of motivation was an idea that was put out by Skinner and a few of his colleagues. It asserts that conduct is a function of its consequences, which means that an individual will engage in behaviours that lead to favourable outcomes and will steer clear of behaviours that have resulted in unfavourable outcomes. The term “law effect” can also be used to refer to this occurrence.

The Reinforcement Theory places less emphasis on the internal motivations of an individual and more attention on the external circumstances that influence their behaviour. Because of this, many companies prioritise investing their time and energy into fostering a positive culture in the workplace. The ability to excite people and increase their morale can be attributed to having a good working environment. The theory of reinforcement can be used in a variety of contexts as a method for shaping the behaviour of individuals.

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The additional burden of encouraging and inspiring their teams to improve their performance falls on the shoulders of managers. Only in situations where workers are willing to adapt will this be a viable option. Employees can be effectively guided and helped to discriminate between positive and negative behaviours through the use of reinforcement, which is an effective technique to guide employees. Here are some illustrations of the Reinforcement Theory:


You choose to respond favourably to the actions of another individual since doing so is advantageous to both your team and the organisation. This not only ensures that the individual will continue their conduct, but it also ensures that they will continue to produce the consequences they desire. A worker, for instance, can receive a reward for arriving at the office earlier than expected. The likelihood of the conduct occurring again is increased as a result of this factor. However, in order to maximise its efficacy as a reinforcement strategy, your reward must be impromptu.


The term “negative reinforcement” refers to the process of reducing barriers so that others can respond favourably and carry out their duties in the manner in which it is anticipated that they will. You may, for instance, ask a member of your team who clocks out early because they have a long trip back home to take certain work home with them and give them some leeway in their schedule.


A person is discouraged from engaging in bad actions by using a form of reinforcement known as negative reinforcement, in which a negative consequence is imposed on them or positive consequences are taken away. But giving someone a penalty does not entail being harsh with your criticism or reprimanding them in any way. As an illustration, the suspension of an employee for breaking the rules of the workplace. It is important to differentiate between punishment and negative reinforcement, which is when undesirable outcomes are avoided in order to promote positive behaviour. The ultimate purpose of punishment is to instil fear and prevent repeat offences.


It is a term that refers to when managers don’t employ the reinforcements that they normally use to halt taught behaviour. You deny the individual the positive reinforcements or rewards that initially prompted them to engage in the undesirable behaviour. Take, as an illustration, the fact that your team is obligated to work on a significant project. Everyone is required to put in extra hours and even sacrifice their weekends. In recognition of their hard work, you pay them extra for their shifts. After the completion of the project, you do not provide any additional incentives, and very quickly, the acquired behaviour of working extra hours comes to an end. However, you need to exercise caution in how you use this reinforcement because you don’t want it to have an adverse effect on the morale of your staff.

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Use of Theory

You need to make use of both positive and negative reinforcement in order to put the Reinforcement Theory into practice effectively. There are two different approaches that can be taken in order to successfully put the Reinforcement Theory into practice.

CONTINUOUS REINFORCEMENT In this method, an individual’s activities are rewarded each time they exhibit behaviour that is deemed to be positive.


INTERMITTENT REINFORCEMENT: There are going to be instances when you won’t be able to reward or penalise someone’s behaviour on the spur of the moment. In order to provide reinforcement, organisations frequently adhere to timetables, and they do it in one of three ways:

Reinforcement will take place at predetermined intervals according to the specified schedule (for example, biweekly paycheck)

There is no set schedule for reinforcement, so you can motivate someone whenever you feel it is appropriate. This type of programme is referred to as a variable interval schedule.

Variable-Ratio-Schedule Reinforcement: You give positive feedback on someone’s conduct only when they have accomplished a certain set of planned outcomes (for example, giving a raise after someone meets all the targets)

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Reinforcement and Punishment in IT

Let’s take a look at a few scenarios using a team that sells information technology. The primary objective of the group is to market their newly developed software to commercial enterprises. It’s possible that the manager will wish to put more emphasis on sales to partners of a certain size (i.e., big contracts). In order to accomplish this goal, the management may decide to award members of the team who bring in clients with 5,000 or more employees a commission equal to five per cent of the total sales volume for each partner they bring in. This reward encourages the behaviour of successfully closing large contracts, which in turn significantly motivates members of the team to strive toward achieving that objective. As a result, the overall number of successfully concluded large contracts is likely to increase.

The removal of something from one’s life or the refusal to provide it as part of punishment is known as “negative punishment.” For instance, Nicole, an employee in the information technology department, likes to work non-traditional hours, specifically from 10:30 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening. On the other hand, her performance has been declining as of late. As a sort of negative punishment, her privilege of maintaining the chosen timetable until her performance has improved should be taken away.


In business organisations, punishment and deterrence theory play an important part in shaping the work culture to be in line with operational expectations and to avoid conflicts and negative outcomes both internally and externally. This is done in order to shape the work culture to be in line with operational expectations and to avoid negative outcomes. If employees are made aware of exactly what they are not permitted to do and they are made aware of the potential consequences of violating those standards, then employees will, in most cases, make an effort to avoid going against the rules. Because waiting for something bad to happen is a strategy that is both more expensive and more difficult, preemptive education regarding rules—and the punishments for violations—is a frequent practice, particularly in the field of corporate ethics.


The Reinforcement Theory explains how people pick up specific habits through the use of rewards and punishments. You will have an easier time motivating everyone to pursue their goals with greater enthusiasm if you use the tools of reinforcement. You need to have an understanding of how your team works before you can attempt to affect the behaviour of anyone else on the team. The Managing Teamwork course offered by Harappa Education will instruct you on everything from the process of team building to the development of existing teams. The Social Styles Model will teach you how to adapt to a variety of diverse approaches to the workplace. You will be able to evaluate everyone’s willingness to complete specific activities with the assistance of the Skill-Will Matrix. After all, motivation is one of the essential components that contribute to effective leadership.

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