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24 Examples of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is something positive that is given, added or increased when an individual acts in a particular way. This is a common type of behavioral learning process whereby individuals shape their behavior to increase positive results. Positive reinforcement can be a natural consequence of action such as feeling better after working out. Alternatively, positive reinforcement can be introduced by an entity that is trying to shape your behavior such as an employer who offers you a bonus for high performance. The following are illustrative examples of a positive reinforcement.
A bonus for high productivity.
A promotion for loyal support of your boss.
A sense of meaning, direction and self-fulfillment that comes from helping others.
A sense of self confidence that comes from outcompeting others.
A small business owner who gets better reviews when they are friendly and helpful to customers.
An increased sense of social inclusion and connectedness from participating in a dance festival.
An increased sense of virtue for promoting a cause in social media.
Awards for achievement in sport.
Feeling a rush of flavor and satisfaction when you eat ice cream.
Feeling a sense of growth and improvement when you buy more things.
Feeling dominant and strong when you bully others.
Feeling healthier after working out.
Feeling more energetic when you drink coffee.
Feeling more popular when you make a new friend.
Getting followers in social media for saying interesting things.
Getting points in a video game for smashing an adversary.
Higher marks at school for studying hard.
Increased social inclusion for piling into groupthink.
Increased social status associated with dressing well.
Positive emotions after doing something creative.
Praise from parents when you do your homework.
Recognition from your team for accomplishing a task.
The delight of receiving applause from an appreciative audience.
The feeling of being more alive and vital when taking an adventurous risk such as skiing down a mountain.
As you can see from the list above, positive reinforcement doesn't always produce positive behavior. In fact, many negative behaviors are strongly linked to positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcements need not be associated with tangible results such as money or a trophy. Examples of intangible reinforcements include positive emotions, increased social status and improved self-confidence.

Positive Reinforcement vs Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is something negative that is taken away, subtracted or reduced with a particular behavior. As with positive reinforcement, this can be a natural consequence of behavior such as pain that is reduced when you stop walking on your injured foot. Negative reinforcements can also be introduced to try to shape behavior such as a boss who stops nagging you when you are productive.

Positive Reinforcement Myths

The following are common misconceptions regarding positive reinforcement.
That positive reinforcements are always tangible things such as more money.

That positive reinforcements are always rewards from others. Positive reinforcements can come from yourself or can be the natural consequences of a behavior.

That positive reinforcements always produce positive behavior. In fact, they often produce problems such as overspending.
Overview: Positive Reinforcement
Something positive that is given, added or increased when an individual acts in a particular way.
Related Concepts


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Difficult Behaviors
Group Behavior
Group Dynamics
Natural Consequences
Passive Aggressive
Social Conformity
Social Contagion
Tetris Effect
Tit For Tat
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