Book Definition:

A type of reinforcement schedule by which some, but not all, correct responses are reinforced; also called partial reinforcement.

In Your Own Words


  • Not being given a reinforcement for every time a correct response is given but only when it is given at certain times or a certain amount of times.
  • Being reinforced with a reward for a correct response only some of the time.
  • Reinforcing some correct responses not all.
  • Intermittent reinforcement resists extinction because reinforcement is not expected for every correct response.
  • Behavior may be sustained over long periods of time without constant reinforcement.

Examples/Functions


  • A bird being in a Skinner box, it is only given a positive reinforcement when it give's a certain amount of pecks instead of it being given a positive reinforcement every peck.
  • Every fifth consecutive time you land the double axle you get 3 cookies.
  • The number of times a student performs the target behavior will determine when she will receive the reinforcer.
  • A student will be reinforced after she turns in homework assignments about every ten times.
  • When all of the students turn in their homework, and the teacher rewards the class every 5th time this occurs.
  • Giving your dog a treat occasionally when they listen to a demand, that way they continue reacting to it.
  • "Human beings are creatures of hope and not genetically designed to resign themselves." - B.F. Skinner

Additional Resources


  1. http://www.psywww.com/intropsych/ch05_conditioning/intermittent_reinforcement.html
  2. About Behaviorism- B.F. Skinner (it's a book)