Confusing Consequences - Short Essay

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by Dr. Plonsky.

I have found that many people confuse negative reinforcement and punishment. These people include dog trainers, college students, and surprisingly, even many college professors and Introduction to Psychology textbooks. In fact, I recently read the book Don't Shoot the Dog! by Karen Pryor and was a bit dismayed to find this confusion there as well. Note that this is not an attempt to flame the book or criticize it unduly. I like the book and learned a lot from it. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in training animals (and sometimes even those interested in training their children). Nonetheless, I do believe that the book suffers from the problem of confusing negative reinforcement and punishment. As such it propagates this confusion because many dog trainers look to this book as a definitive source on the science of behavior.

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