OPERANT CONDITIONING PROJECT
As partial fulfillment of the Project assignments for Psych 1000, students may
complete a project in which they will use the techniques of operant conditioning to train a
pet, or any animal, to perform a new behavior, or “trick”. Your efforts should be
described in a typed, double-spaced report.
The report will have eight parts, all of which should be discussed in your report, as
1) Pick the behavior, or “trick”, you will guide it into performing. It should be a
behavior beyond simple command behaviors, such as - sit, stay, or speak. The
more complex, the better.
2) Watch the animal to see if it performs any behaviors which mimic or
approximate the targeted behavior.
3) Pick a reinforcer which will encourage the animal to learn the trick.
4) Teach the trick through use of Skinner’s shaping techniques. Detail how long
this takes, and how you built to the desired behavior through successive
5) Once the behavior has been acquired, fade the reinforcement by only
delivering it every four or five times the trick is performed.
6) Put the behavior through extinction by no longer reinforcing it; count how
many trials it takes before the animal stops responding, if it stops at all.
7) Wait two days and see if the animal will again respond, then try a different
reinforcer, praise of affection and see if that will maintain the behavior.
8) Summarize the entire process and describe what this exercise taught you
about the power (and frustrations) of behavior modification through operant
9) Attach a photo of your animal performing the trick. Extra credit available for
a DVD of the process.
This project is due on the last class meeting of the week of OCTOBER 29, NO
Project is worth 7.5% of final grade.