What is Vicarious Reinforcement: Definition, Examples and Application.

What is Vicarious Reinforcement: Definition, Examples and Application.

As a background, in psychology, reinforcement is means to recognise and reward desirable behaviour in hopes that such behaviour will be repeated. Meanwhile, vicarious reinforcement is people’s tendency to imitate behaviours for which they have seen on others being rewarded.

Here are some examples:

1. Toddler learns to say the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on his own because he saw his older sibling do the same and get praised for it.
2. A child eats all of his lunch in order to get dessert because he saw his older brother eat the entire meal and was given a dessert.
3. A student answers the teacher’s question because he saw one student praised by teacher for doing it.

Here’s a video to help you further understand what vicarious reinforcement is: 

Vicarious reinforcement is related to vicarious learning. It is also known as observational learning or learning through modeling and occurs when an individual learns something simply through observation without direct reinforcement or punishment of the behaviour

Social learning theory incorporated behavioural and cognitive theories of learning in order to provide a comprehensive model that could account for the wide range of learning experiences that occur in the real world. Reinforcement learning theory states that learning is driven by discrepancies between the predicted and actual outcomes of actions. Since this theory was put forward Albert Bandura it has been widely studies and has now several applications: in work setting, in the classroom, and even in neurorehabilitation


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