Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology

2010 Edition
| Editors: Ian P. Stolerman

Negative Reinforcement Theory

  • Luis Stinus
  • Stéphanie Caillé
  • Martine Cador
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-68706-1_1684

Definition

Like positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement increases the likelihood that a behavior associated with it will be continued. However, a negative reinforcer is an unpleasant stimulus that is removed after a behavioral response. Negative reinforcers can range from uncomfortable physical sensations to actions causing severe physical distress. Taking drug to relieve the withdrawal distress is, arguably, an example of negative reinforcement. If a person’s withdrawal syndrome (stimulus) goes away after taking drug (behavior), then it is likely that the person will seek for drug as soon as the first withdrawal discomfort will appear in the future.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Stinus
    • 1
  • Stéphanie Caillé
    • 1
  • Martine Cador
    • 1
  1. 1.Team Neuropsychopharmacology of addictionUMR CNRS 5227 University of Bordeaux 1 and 2Bordeaux CedexFrance