Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Operant Conditioning

  • Ioulia PapageorgiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1047-1



In behavioral learning theory, operant conditioning is defined as a learning process in which the likelihood of a specific voluntary behavior is strengthened (increases in frequency) or weakened (decreases in frequency) in response to consequences (reinforcement or punishment, respectively), occurring after the behavior is exhibited.


Operant conditioning is a learning process appearing in behavioral learning theory. According to the theory, the likelihood of a specific voluntary behavior is strengthened (increases in frequency) or weakened (decreases in frequency) in response to the consequences (reinforcement or punishment, respectively) that follow the behavior. Whereas classical conditioning is used to re-train reflect behaviors (e.g., crying when we feel afraid, salivating when we smell food) so that they appear under new conditions...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus