The psychology behind changing behavior
In 1948, American psychologist B.F. Skinner theorized that behavior could be molded through reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement encouraged a person to repeat the behavior, while punishment aimed to lessen it. Knowing both will help us understand how punishment or reward works.
Positive reinforcement (or reward) adds a consequence of good behavior. For instance, if your kid finishes their homework, you give them TV time. Negative reinforcement, meanwhile, removes a consequence to encourage that behavior. An example: If your kid finishes their homework, they don’t have to do chores.
Like positive reinforcement, positive punishment adds a consequence, but this time to discourage the behavior. For example, if your kid doesn’t clean their room, they get spanked. Negative punishment is taking away something as a result of that behavior. In this case, if your kid doesn’t clean their room, you take away their phone.