Primary and Secondary Reinforcers (2 pages) We use reinforcement to increase appropriate behaviors. The effectiveness of reinforcement depends on an individual’s preference. While some items or activities are preferred for some individuals, they may be aversive for others. When using positive reinforcement, we must ensure that the reinforcers we are presenting actually function as reinforcers. Also, keep in mind that just because you may like or enjoy something, it does not mean you will respond to gain access.
One may like doing puzzles, but one may not be willing to run five miles to gain access to a puzzle. List five preferred items or activities that you enjoy. Categorize these five items or activities into primary or secondary reinforcers. Explain why each is an example of a primary reinforcer or a secondary reinforcer. What primary reinforcers are the secondary reinforcers likely paired with? If any are secondary reinforcers, speculate how they may have come to be secondary reinforcers. What were the primary reinforcers with which they may have been paired? For more information on Reinforcers read this:

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