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Positive reinforcement is a critical component of B. F. Skinner’s behavioral theory of learning. Positive reinforcement is defined as the presentation of a stimulus contingent on a behavior that results in an increased frequency of that behavior in the future. The reinforcing stimulus is strongest if it is presented immediately following the behavior. For example, if a child with autism is told to sit in a chair and receives a desired treat such as a candy immediately after sitting, the likelihood of the child sitting down more frequently in the future increases. The effect of reinforcement depends on the strength of the reinforcer being used. However, procedures are also available for using delayed or partial reinforcement schedules. Strong reinforcers are idiosyncratic and depend on the individual as well as the environmental context, availability of other reinforcers, etc. Commonly used reinforcers include edibles, activities, praise, and tangibles such as toys or...

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References and Readings

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Correspondence to Rebecca Doggett .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Doggett, R., Koegel, L. (2013). Positive Reinforcement. In: Volkmar, F.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer, New York, NY.

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