Elmo, age 5, has learned that, if he has a tantrum at mealtime whenever his parents want him to eat food he doesn't like, his parents will let him eat something else instead so that he will stop crying. In this situation, the parents' behavior (letting Elmo eat something other than the disliked food) is being maintained by which of the following?
- Escape conditioning
- Avoidance conditioning
- Stimulus discrimination
- Stimulus generalization
The Correct Answer is A.
Escape conditioning is a type of negative reinforcement (i.e., operant conditioning) that occurs when a person’s behavior is maintained because it allows the person to escape an undesirable stimulus. In this situation, the parents' choice to let Elmo eat something other than the disliked food is negatively reinforced because it results in termination of his tantrum.
Answer B: Avoidance conditioning is another type of negative reinforcement that occurs when a cue signals that the undesirable stimulus is about to begin. In this case, the undesirable stimulus can be avoided entirely if the individual performs the appropriate (i.e., reinforced) behavior in response to the cue.
Answer C: Stimulus discrimination, a classical conditioning concept, occurs when a conditioned response occurs only in response to a specific conditioned stimulus and not in response to other stimuli.
Answer D: In stimulus generalization (also a concept in classical conditioning), the individual responds with a conditioned response to stimuli that are similar to the original conditioned stimulus.