Two or three volunteers will receive reinforcement from the rest of the class while performing a simple
Two or three volunteers will receive reinforcement from the rest of the class while performing a simple task. The volunteers leave the room while the class is being briefed.The instructor identifies an object which the student volunteers must find when they return to the room. This object should be unobtrusive, but it should be clearly visible to the class: a piece of paper stuck to the wall, a briefcase or bag in the corner, a mark on the wall. The instructor specifies the reinforcement regime that will apply when each of the volunteers comes back into the room. Negative reinforcement regime: the class will hiss, boo, make sarcastic comments, and throw harmless items at the first volunteer when they are moving away from the chosen object, and sit silently when they are moving towards it. Positive reinforcement regime: the class will smile, cheer, applaud, and make encouraging comments with compliments when the second volunteer is moving towards the chosen object, and sit silently when they move away. Combined reinforcement regime: the class will cheer when the third volunteer approaches the object, and boo when they move away from it. Nominate one student to record the time that it takes each of the volunteers to find the object. 1. The first volunteer is brought back into the room, and instructed: Your task is to find and touch a particular object in the room. The class will help you, but you cannot ask questions, and they cannot speak to you. The first volunteer continues to look for the object until it is found, with the class giving negative reinforcement. 2. The second volunteer is brought back into the room, and is given the same instruction, to look for the object, with the class giving positive reinforcement. 3. The third volunteer is brought back into the room, and is instructed to find the object with the class giving a combination of negative and positive reinforcement.
• Ask the volunteers how they each felt during this exercise. What were their emotional responses to the different kinds of reinforcement they received?
• What effects did the different reinforcement regimes have on the behaviour of the volunteers?
• Which reinforcement regime do you think is most common in today’s organizations? What are the likely effects on motivation and productivity?
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