Continuous Reinforcement

Continuous reinforcement is a type of Schedule of Reinforcement that regularly affects behavior. In this form of schedule, every correct response is reinforced every single time. Continuous reinforcement or Continuous reinforcement schedule is regarded as one of the simpler forms of schedule of reinforcement; nevertheless, it is incredibly systematic.

Examples of Continuous Reinforcement

  • Giving a child a chocolate every day after he finishes his math homework.
  • You can teach your dog to sit down every time you say sit by giving it a treat every time it obeys, or in other words – elicits correct response.

man training dog

  • Putting a child in detention every time he fails to submit his homework.

These examples are clear illustrations of continuous reinforcement schedule.

How Continuous Reinforcement Works?

Continuous reinforcement works in regard to expectations. When reinforcers are positive, individuals have certain expectations as the result of their behavior, which helps them to elicit correct response.

This procedure has been known to be most effective when trying to teach the subject a new behavior. Its implementations are not just limited to humans, and can also be used to teach new behaviors to animals. Reinforcement schedules are a part of operant conditioning that trains an organism to anticipate repercussions and rewards based on their responses.

If we consider the aforementioned examples:

In the first example, chocolate is the reward/reinforcer that encourages the child to finish his math homework. Regular supply of the chocolate shapes the mindset of the child to expect a chocolate every time he completes his math homework. The expectation then encourages him to do his homework on time.

child doing homework

The same case applies with the dog, where it expects a treat. This same process is used to train animals in police academies and circuses in earlier stages.

The third example mentioned here suggests that negative reinforcement can also be used in continuous reinforcement schedule. The expectation of detention shapes the mindset of the child that he must submit his homework regularly in order to avoid detention.

Critical Evaluation

Continuous reinforcement is among the best techniques to help a subject to pick up any new behavior. But, the form of scheduling is not realistically possible to be conducted every time. It requires continuous supervision of the subject, which cannot always be carried out in practical, although seeming remarkable in theory.

So, despite being systematic and quite a simple procedure, it does have its limitations. Also, it is best to switch from continuous reinforcement to partial reinforcement to prevent the particular behavior from being extinct.