Negative Punishment

Negative punishment is a term described by B. F. Skinner in his theory of Operant Conditioning. The goal of any type of punishment is to decrease the behavior that it follows.

In the case of negative punishment, it involves taking something good or desirable away to reduce the occurrence of a particular behavior.

Losing access to a toy, being grounded, and losing reward tokens are all examples of negative punishment

Negative punishment is most effective when:

  • It immediately follows a response.
  • It is applied consistently.

A major problem with punishments is that while it might reduce the unwanted behavior, it does not provide any information or instruction on more appropriate reaction or behavior.

While negative punishment has its uses, many experts suggested that other methods of operant conditioning are often more effective for changing behaviors in the short-term and long-term.

Perhaps most importantly, many of these other methods come without the potentially negative consequences of positive punishment.