There are two types of reinforcement and two types of punishment. These are often referred to as “the four quadrants of learning” or just “the four quadrants”.
- Positive reinforcement (+R) is the addition of something good to reinforce/increase a behavior. Ex: Praising a dog for sitting when asked, giving a child a sticker for completing homework, giving a cat a treat for getting off furniture when asked, etc.
- Negative reinforcement (-R) is the removal of something aversive/unpleasant to reinforce/increase a behavior. Ex: Removing leg pressure from a horse when they move from your leg, holding the shock collar button and releasing when the dog does the desired behavior, removing eye contact when the animal looks away, etc.
- Positive punishment (+P) is the addition of something unpleasant/aversive to punish/decrease a behavior. Ex: giving a collar jerk/correction when a dog barks, spanking a horse with a crop when they ignore a leg cue, slapping a child for swearing, vocal corrections (“ah ah!” or “no!”), spraying a cat with a water bottle for jumping on furniture, etc.
- Negative punishment (-P) is the removal of something good/wanted to punish/decrease a behavior. Ex: Removing all attention from a barking dog, taking away phone privileges from a child for failing a class, putting an animal/child in time out, refusing to walk forward until there is slack in the lead rope when a horse pulls, etc.