The Quadrant Quandary: Clarity and Perspective on an Icon - Karen Pryor Clicker Training
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The Quadrant Quandary: Clarity and Perspective on an Icon


Jesus Rosales-Ruiz - Reno 2016

The quadrants of operant conditioning have been both a help and a hindrance for animal trainers who want to understand more about behavioral processes. When used effectively, the quadrants provide a convenient framework for explaining the defining properties of positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. Sometimes, however, the quadrants are explained in a way that has created confusion about certain behavioral processes, and has invited uses of the quadrants beyond their intended purpose.

Phrases used to describe parts of the quadrants, such as “add good stuff,” “take away something bad,” etc., introduce ambiguity with respect to the procedures, and lead to characterizing certain quadrants as inherently good or bad. This presentation illustrates problems that arise when we talk about the quadrants in certain ways, and will suggest a way to describe the quadrants that minimizes ambiguity and debate.