Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Negative Reinforcement in Social Learning Theory

  • Maxine NoticeEmail author
  • Jinsook Song
  • Janet Robertson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_47

Name of Strategy

Negative reinforcement in social learning theory


Negative reinforcement in social learning theory is defined as the removal of an aversive stimulus to aid in the promotion of a specific behavior (Bandura 1977). The removal of an irritant stimulus trains a person to learn that their completion of a particular behavior will cause the irritant to be extinguished, or forgo introduction into the situation, thus creating a favorable outcome for the person. It is important to distinguish that negative reinforcement is different from punishment, in that it is designed to increase the probability of the behavior occurring in future scenarios that meet the situational requirements of the initial learning experience.

Theoretical Framework

Negative reinforcement was first described in B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning, as a mechanism of strengthening the behavior by stopping, removing, or avoiding a negative stimulus (Skinner 1976). In social learning...

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  1. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory, Prentice-Hall series in social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Baucom, D. H., & Epstein, N. (1990). Cognitive behavioral marital therapy. New York: Brunner, Mazel.Google Scholar
  3. Skinner, B. (1976). About behaviorism. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Antioch University New EnglandKeeneUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Brian Baucom
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA