Definition reprinted with permission from Hood, Stephen B. (editor) available from Stuttering Foundation of America: Stuttering Words (Publication No 2: Speech Foundation of America)
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By conventional definition, reinforcers result in an increase in the frequency of a target response or an approximation thereof. In the case of positive reinforcement, a pleasurable contingency is applied to a behavior and the behavior increases (reward). In the case of negative reinforcement (escape conditioning) the behavior is increased (reinforced) because it is instrumental in allowing release from an ongoing noxious or otherwise aversive or unpleasant stimulus.