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Punishment

Punishment is one of those words that has a negative connotation in the real world, but in the world of ABA, it merely has 1 meaning: decreasing behavior. In the three term contingency (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) the consequence delivered would decrease the future probability of the behavior occurring. Punishment is the opposite of reinforcement. However, just like reinforcement, there are two types: Positive Punishment and Negative Punishment.


Positive Punishment: This type of punishment occurs when a stimulus is added after the behavior that decreases the likelihood of the behavior occurring again in the future.

Example: 
  • After coming home late for curfew, Jamie's dad spends 2 hours lecturing her. If Jamie doesn't miss her curfew again because she hates to be lectured to, then this is positive punishment at work. However, if Jamie continues to miss her curfew, her dad's lecturing actually increases her behavior and is not punishment at all.


Negative Punishment: This type of punishment occurs when a stimulus is taken away after the behavior and it decreases the likelihood of the behavior occurring again in the future.

 
Example: 
  • Jamie comes home late for curfew. Her dad takes her car keys and she doesn't get them again for two weeks. Jamie doesn't miss curfew again, ever. Taking the car keys away (negative) and Jamie not missing curfew again serve as negative punishment. Jamie's dad effectively eliminated Jamie missing curfew through using negative punishment.