There is some interesting points here that we need to think about as we examine the issue of reinforcement. Take a look at this research:
In operant conditioning, schedules of reinforcement are an important component of the learning process. When and how often we reinforce a behavior can have a dramatic impact on the strength and rate of the response. Certain schedules of reinforcement may be more effective in specific situations. There are two types of reinforcement schedules:
1. Continuous Reinforcement
In continuous reinforcement, the desired behavior is reinforced every single time it occurs. Generally, this schedule is best used during the initial stages of learning in order to create a strong association between the behavior and the response. Once the response if firmly attached, reinforcement is usually switched to a partial reinforcement schedule.
2. Partial Reinforcement
In partial reinforcement, the response is reinforced only part of the time. Learned behaviors are acquired more slowly with partial reinforcement, but the response is more resistant to extinction. There are four schedules of partial reinforcement:
Fixed-ratio schedules are those where a response is reinforced only after a specified number of responses. This schedule produces a high, steady rate of responding with only a brief pause after the delivery of the reinforcer.
Variable-ratio schedules occur when a response is reinforced after an unpredictable number of responses. This schedule creates a high steady rate of responding. Gambling and lottery games are good examples of a reward based on a variable ratio schedule.
Fixed-interval schedules are those where the first response is rewarded only after a specified amount of time has elapsed. This schedule causes high amounts of responding near the end of the interval, but much slower responding immediately after the delivery of the reinforcer.
Variable-interval schedules occur when a response is rewarded after an unpredictable amount of time has passed. This schedule produces a slow, steady rate of response. http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/a/schedules.htm
After reading the various definitions which one of the above do you think is the most commonly used reinforcement schedule and why?