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BEHP1168: A Critical Look at the Concept of Reinforcement

Time limit: 60 days
2.5 credits

$32.50 Enroll

Full course description

Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes 
Credit: 2.5 Learning BACB CEs

Presenter: Hank Schlinger, Ph.D., BCBA-D

​Course Description: Takes a critical look at the concept of reinforcement beginning with Thorndike’s Law of Effect. Evaluates standard definitions of reinforcement, including where they came from, notes commonalities, and then suggests an alternative definition that corrects for some problems with the standard definitions. Implications for processes named reinforcement that are not consistent with any definition of reinforcement (e.g., NCR, DRO) and for behavior analysts’ verbal behavior about reinforcement are examined.


  • State the Law of Effect and discuss Thorndike’s and Skinner’s experiments and Skinner’s initial definition of reinforcement.
  • Recognize the standard definition of reinforcement, including where scientific definitions and terms come from (i.e., they are tacts of repeatable functional relations).
  • Identify problems with the standard definition.
  • Describe how reinforcement (and, indeed, all consequences) is function altering.
  • Provide a modified definition of reinforcement based on a function-altering conception.
  • Describe why some operations and procedures that go by the name of reinforcement are not reinforcement.
  • Describe some problems with behavior analysts’ verbal behavior about reinforcement.

Keywords: Applied behavior analysis, reinforcement, function altering, verbal behavior

Rating: This course is recommended for certified practitioners in the field of behavior analysis (BCBAs and BCaBAs) and professionals with background knowledge of the concepts and principles of behavior analysis. 

Access: 60 days from the date and time of registration

Important notes:  Your access begins at the time of purchase, not the time of log in.  Effective July 1, 2022, Florida Tech no longer offers extensions for CE courses; if you do not finish your course and need to repurchase, please contact us.  If you are taking this course to maintain your BACB certification, you will need to write your certification number on your certificate of completion, as the BACB requires that your certificate of completion includes your certification number.


For more information, if you experience problems when registering, or if you need to repurchase a CE please email us at



Refund Policy

No refunds are provided once the course is accessed.

These workshops are presented in partnership between the Florida Tech ABA Online program and ABA Technologies, Inc. ABA Technologies, Inc., is a BACB-approved provider of type-2 continuing education hours (provider number: OP-02-0023)