Tuesday, 28 February 2017

“Primary Reinforcer” and “Generalized Reinforcer”

Primary Reinforcer and Generalized Reinforce

Difference between “Primary Reinforcer” and “Generalized Reinforcer”:

According to B.F. Skinner, reinforcer can be primary reinforcer or generalized reinforcer.
A primary reinforcer is a stimulus that is naturally reinforcing, such as food, drink, or sex. These stimuli (food, drink, or sex) are related to an unlearned need or drive. Stimuli that satisfy these drives tend to be highly reinforcing for most of the organisms. They are referred to as positive stimuli.

A generalized reinforcer is a stimulus which has acquired reinforcing properties through repeated pairings with other reinforcers under various situations; the stimulus (which was previously neutral) now becomes reinforcing for many behaviors. 

For example, if an animal is always fed from a stainless steel plate, the plate itself comes to acquired reinforcing properties because it is regularly associated with the food. 

Another example is money which has no intrinsic value; but it acquires its value through repeated association with the necessities of life.

Generally, a primary reinforcer is one which is related to the organism’s basic physiological system, for example, hunger or thirst.  On the other hand, a generalized reinforcer does not have intrinsic reinforcing properties for the organism; rather their reinforcing values are learned because they are associated with some primary reinforcer.

Thus, the generalized reinforcer tends to supplement or substitute the primary reinforcer.