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Reinforcement Theory of Motivation

Definition: The Reinforcement Theory of Motivation was proposed by B.F. Skinner and his associates. This theory posits that behavior is the function of its consequences, which means an individual develops a behavior after performing certain actions.

The reinforcement theory of motivation is based on the “Law of Effect” concept, i.e. an individual is likely to repeat those actions having the positive consequences, and will avoid those behaviors that result in negative or unpleasant outcomes.

The behaviors that elicit consequences is called as operant behavior and reinforcement theory work on the relationship between the operant behavior and the associated consequences and, therefore, is often called as Operant Conditioning. Operant conditioning means, the change in the behavior caused due to the reinforcement (Positive reward or punishment) given after the response.

The reinforcement theory lay emphasis on the environmental factors that shape the behaviors and thus, Skinner believed that environment external to the organization must be designed effectively so as to increase the motivation among the employees.

Thus, the reinforcement theory of motivation mainly focuses on what happens when an individual takes some action. It is observed, that people tend to repeat those activities which gives them pleasure and avoid the activities with negative consequences.

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