Reinforcement is a term in operant conditioning and behavior analysis for a process of strengthening a directly measurable dimension of behavior—such as rate (pulling a lever more frequently), duration ( pulling a lever for longer periods of time), magnitude (pulling a lever with greater force), or latency (pulling a lever more quickly following the onset of an environmental event)—as a function of the delivery of a “valued” stimulus (money from a slot machine) immediately or shortly after the occurrence of the behavior.
Reinforcement theory is the process of shaping behavior by controlling the consequences of the behavior. In reinforcement theory a combination of rewards and/or punishments is used to reinforce desired behavior or extinguish unwanted behavior. Any behavior that elicits a consequence is called operant behavior, because the individual operates on his or her environment. Reinforcement theory concentrates on the relationship between the operant behavior and the associated consequences, and is sometimes referred to as operant conditioning.
Reinforcement Theory of Motivation:- Reinforcement theory of motivation was proposed by BFSkinner and his associates. It states that individual’s behaviour is a function of its consequences. It is based on “law of effect” individual’s behaviour with positive consequences tends to be repeated, but individual’s behaviour with negative consequences tends not to be repeated. Reinforcement theory of motivation overlooks the internal state of individual, the inner feelings and drives of individuals are ignored by Skinner.
This theory focuses totally on what happens to an individual when he takes some action. Thus, according to Skinner, the external environment of the organization must be designed effectively and positively so as to motivate the employee. This theory is a strong tool for analyzing controlling mechanism for individual’s behaviour. However, it does not focus on the causes of individual’s behaviour.