Industrial/Organizational psychology

Industrial/Organizational psychology

Industrial/Organizational psychology

Organizational psychology has several theories that explain learning at work places. Operant conditioning is one of the theories that can apply in enhancing learning in an organization. Operant conditioning is a method that occurs through rewards and punishments for any form of behavior. It is through the conditioning that a link between behavior and a consequence formed. For example B.F. Skinner, the proponent of the theory did a research with rats in a laboratory.

When the rat pressed a blue button presented, he received some food as a reward but when he pressed the red button, he received an electric shock. With time, the rat learnt to press the blue button every time they are hungry and avoided the red button.

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It is key that the management reinforce a behavior continuously if they want it learned very fast. However, upon learning they can keep reinforcing it intermittently so that the behavior may not stop altogether (Gagne, 1970). Managers can use either positive or negative reinforcement. Reinforcement is positive if there is the addition of something new that is appellate to the employees such as a raise or a promotion so as to motivate them.

On the contrary, negative reinforcement entails the withdrawal of an undesired thing in the workplace such as relentless control after employees show that they have learned their jobs adequately. It will motivate the employees to learn faster

Ferster, C. B. & Skinner, B. F., (1957). Schedules of Reinforcement. New York: Appleton Century-Crofts.

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