Discussion Psychology


BF Skinner, a noted learning theorist and the psychologist responsible for developing the concepts involved in operant conditioning, trained pigeons to play ping pong. Watch this  video of pigeons playing ping pong  (use your mouse to right-click on the link and open in a new tab) and then answer the following discussion question.

What type of reinforcement was used to train these birds to play ping pong, positive or negative reinforcement? Would the food (the reinforcement) be considered a primary or a secondary reinforcer? Describe the steps you would take to teach a pigeon to play basketball, including the concept of  "shaping"  as it applies to operant conditioning. What type of reinforcement would you use (positive vs. negative, food vs. non-food).