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Premack Principle

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Synonyms

Grandma’s rule

Definition

The Premack principle is a principle of reinforcement which states that an opportunity to engage in more probable behaviors (or activities) will reinforce less probable behaviors (or activities). For example, if a child enjoys playing computer games (more probable) and avoids completing math problems (less probable), we might allow her to play the computer after (contingent upon) completing 15 math problems. Prior to the introduction of the Premack principle, systems of reinforcement were viewed as the contingency between a stimulus and behavior. The Premack principle expanded the existing reinforcement contingency of stimulus behavior to include contingencies between two behaviors. This principle is often referred to as “grandma’s rule” because grandmothers (or any caregivers) often apply this principle: “you have to eat your vegetables (less probable) before you can have dessert (more probable)” or “you have to clean your room (less probable) before...

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3_1165
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References and Readings

  • Catania, A. C. (1998). Learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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  • Premack, D. (1959). Toward empirical behaviour laws: Positive reinforcement. Psychological Review, 66, 219–233.

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  • Premack, D. (1963). Rate differential reinforcement in monkey manipulation. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 6, 81–89.

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Correspondence to Erin E. Barton .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Barton, E.E. (2013). Premack Principle. In: Volkmar, F.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3_1165

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