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Perspectivas em análise do comportamento

On-line version ISSN 2177-3548


SANTOS, Edson Luiz Nascimento dos  and  LEITE, Felipe Lustosa. The distinction between positive and negative reinforcements in behavior analysis text books. Perspectivas [online]. 2013, vol.4, n.1, pp. 10-19. ISSN 2177-3548.

The concepts of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement have been traditionally defined by the presentation of a reinforcing stimulus and by the removal of aversive stimuli, respectively. Michael (1975) questioned this distinction, stating that in many situations is difficult to distinguish such processes based on presentation and removal. Furthermore considered wrong the treatment as synonyms of negative reinforcing stimuli and aversive stimuli interchangeably, which identify negative reinforcement with punishment and create a conceptual confusion. Not by chance, he suggested the abandonment of the distinction between positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement in teaching behavior analysis. The present paper had the objective to evaluate how the concepts of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement are treated in behavior analysis textbooks. 13 behavior analysis textbooks were used, being extracted transcriptions the present the definitions of the concepts mentioned above. The results showed that only two books dealt with the problems related to the concepts of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. We conclude that, when teaching behavior analysis, the Michael's (1975) arguments are ignored. This investigation could be enhanced by investigating how such concepts are treated in articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

Keywords : positive reinforcement; negative reinforcement; teaching Behavior Analysis.

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