Magic Mustang Tamer


We want to promote a uniform vocabulary amongst animal trainers. Enjoy our glossary.

Active desensitization: The process of training an animal to become comfortable to new stimuli using reinforcement.

Animal care: Providing and maintaining the overall physical health and mental well-being of the animals under our care.

Antecedent: Environmental conditions or stimulus changes that exist or occur prior to the behavior of interest.

Applied Behavior Analysis: The science in which tactics or methods derived from the principals of behavior are applied to improve socially significant behavior, and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for the behavior change.

Attitude: Emotions often based on appraisal, which predispose an animal to respond in a particular way to objects, other animals, and events.

Automatic reinforcement: A behavior-reinforcement relation that occurs without the presentation of consequences by other people.

Avoidance contingency: A contingency in which responding delays or prevents the presentation of a stimulus.

Behavior: The activity of living organisms.

Behavioral: Studying and precisely measuring physical events rather than perceptions or descriptions of events.

Behavior Science: A branch of science with a focus on animal behavior as an adaptation for functioning and interacting with their environment.

Bridge: A marker signal that connects the behavior to the reinforcement.

Classical Conditioning: Respondent conditioning; association of a neutral stimulus with an involuntary response.

Concurrent schedule: Two or more contingencies operate independently and simultaneously, for two or more behaviors.

Conditioned punisher: A stimulus that functions as a punisher as a result of conditioning history.

Conditioned reinforcer: A previously neutral stimulus change that has acquired the capability to function as a reinforce through stimulus-stimulus pairing with one or more unconditioned reinforcers, or conditioned reinforcers.

Conditioned stimulus: A stimulus that produces a behavioral response as a result of conditioning history.

Conditioning: The pairing of stimuli to result in learning.

Consequence: A stimulus change that follows a behavior of interest.

Contiguity: Bordering or being in direct contact with something.

Contingency: A relation that exists stating the behavior must be exhibited for a consequence to occur. A dependent or temporal relation between operant behavior and its controlling variables. “If this…then that.”

Continuous reinforcement: A schedule that provides reinforcement for each occurrence of behavior – CRF.

Controlled break: Immediately following the delivery of a primary reinforcement, the trainer removes himself and reinforcements from the animal’s environment.

Criteria: A standard by which something can be judged.

Desensitization: To extinguish an emotional response to stimuli that formerly induced it.

Determinism: The assumption that the universe is a lawful and orderly place in which phenomenon occur in relation to other events and not willy-nilly, or in accidental fashion.

Differential reinforcement: The selective reinforcement of one behavior (or more) while a second behavior is not reinforced.

Differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior: The selective reinforcment of a behavior that is physically impossible to do at the same time as a particular undesirable behavior.

Discriminative stimulus: Sd. An antecedent stimulus correlated with the availability of reinforcement for a particular response class; a learned signal to request a particular learned behavior.

Effects of a fixed ratio schedule: Little hesitation between responses; post-reinforcement pause; high rates of responding.

Effects of fixed interval: Post-reinforcement pause in the early part of interval; slow but accelerating rates of responding; moderate rates of responding.

Effects of VR schedule: Consistent, steady rates of responding, high rates of response; no post-reinforcement pause.

Elicit: To call forth, draw out, or provoke.

Elicited behavior: The behavior of the animal in response to an SD or prompt from the trainer.

Emitted behavior: A behavior of the animal that was not elicited or caused by the trainer.

Environment: The conglomerate of circumstances in which an individual exists and is demonstrating behavior.

Escape contingency: A contingency in which responding terminates a stimulus.

Escape extinction: A behavior that is reinforced by negative reinforcement does not produce a removal of the aversive stimulus.

Ethology: The branch of zoology that studies animal behavior as it relates to interactions with the natural and social environment.

Examples of negative punishment procedures: Response cost, time-out from positive reinforcement.

Examples of positive punishment procedures: Reprimand, response blocking, contingent exercise, overcorrection, contingent electric stimulation.

Experimentation: The use of experiments, or carefully controlled comparisons of the phenomenon of interest, to identify relations between variables.

Extended timeout: The removal of opportunity to receive reinforcement until the next session.

Extinction: A schedule that withholds reinforcement for an occurrence of a target behavior – EXT.

Extinction burst: Initial increase in response frequency upon implementation or occurrence of extinction.

Extinguish: The reduction of behavior due to non-reinforcement.

Fading the SD: Gradual change in the discriminative stimulus (sd) making it less salient.

Fixed Interval (FI): Provides reinforcement for the first response following a fixed amount of time (FI 3).

Fixed ratio (FR): A schedule that requires a specific number of responses to be completed, before a response produced a reinforce i.e. FR1, FR3.

Fluency: Behaving with speed and accuracy.

Functional relation: A statement that describes how two variables, events, are related where a change in one event can reliably be produced by the specific manipulation of another event.

Husbandry training: Specific training to monitor and maintain quality health care.

Incorrect behavior: An incorrect response to a stimulus, a response that is something other than what was asked for.

Instinctive behaviors: Behavior that has been passed down from parent to offspring by means of genetic information.

Intermittent Reinforcement: A schedule in which some, but not all, occurrences of a behavior are reinforced.

Interval schedule: Requires an elapse of time, before a response produced reinforcement.

Least Reinforcing Scenario (LRS): A no-response by the trainer for a very brief interval of time.

Magnitude reinforcement: A reinforcer that is larger or more preferred than the expected reinforcer.

Maintenance of Behavior: A lasting behavior change.

Motivation: A state of mind of any organism that produces a noticible increase in behavioral activity.

Motivating operation: Antecedent variable that alters the effectiveness of some variable as a reinforce, and then alters the frequency of a behavior that has been reinforced by that reinforce in the past.

Negative punishment: Removal of a stimulus, immediately following a response, results in a future decrease in the frequency of this response.

Negative reinforcement: A type of reinforcement that occurs when the termination, reduction, or postponement of a stimulus contingent on the occurrence of a response leads to an increase in the future occurrence of that response.

Neutral stimulus: A stimulus that does not elicit a behavioral response.

Operant behavior: Behavior whose future frequency is determined by its history of consequences.

Operant conditioning: A type of learning in whiuch the likelihood of a specific behavior is increased or decreased by the history of consequences of that behavior.

Positive punishment: Presentation of a stimulus, immediately following a response, that results in a future decrease in the frequency of this response.

Positive reinforcement: Presentation of a stimulus, immediately following a response, that results in a future increase in the frequency of this response.

Positive reinforcer: An appetitive stimulus that is presented as a consequence to a behavior and which increases the liklihood of that behavior being repeated.

Pragmatism: The belief that the truth of a theory is related to its practical success in its application.

Premack Principle: A concept that says that making the opportunity to engage in a high rate behavior, contingent upon the occurrence of a low rate behavior, will function as reinforcement for the low-frequency behavior.

Principle: Law that explains how things happen or work.

Prompt: Supplementary antecedent stimulus used to occasion a correct response in the presence of an Sd that will eventually control the behavior.

Punisher: The stimulus change, presented or removed, that results in a decrease in future responding.

Punishment: A behavioral principle that occurs when a response is followed immediately by a stimulus, and the future frequency of a similar response decreases.

Ratio schedule: Requires a number of responses, before a response produces reinforcement.

Reinforcement: Occurs when a stimulus change immediately follows a response and increases the future frequency of that type of behavior in similar conditions.

Respondent: Behavior that is elicited by antecedent stimuli, or induced by a stimulus that precedes the behavior.

Respondent conditioning: That type of learning that occurs when new stimuli acquire the ability to elicit respondents.

Response: A specific instance of behavior.

Rule: A verbal description of a behavioral contingency.

Schedule of Reinforcement: A rule that describes the contingency of reinforcement, or which behaviors will be reinforced, and which will not.

Schedule thinning: The process of moving from CRF to intermittent reinforcement.

Science: A systematic approach for seeking and organizing knowledge about the natural world.

Sd: A stimulus in the presence of which a response has been reinforced in the past – evokes a response, or increases momentary frequency, of the response.

Secondary reinforcement: Something that the animals wants or desires as a result of association with a primary reinforcer.

Shaping: Modifying a behavior through successive approximations by selectively reinforcing behavioral responses.

Spontaneous recovery: Re-appearance of a behavior after it has been exposed to extinction for a while.

Station: An assigned position that is designated by the trainer.

Stimulus: An event in the environment.

Stimulus class: Set of stimuli that evoke the same operant response, A group of stimuli that share specified common elements along formal (e.g., size, color), temporal (e.g., antecedent or consequent), and/or functional (e.g., discriminative stimulus) dimensions.

Stimulus control: A behavioral principal; describes a relationship between an antecedent stimulus and a response when the rate, frequency, magnitude, latency, or duration of a response is altered in the presence of a stimulus.

Stimulus preference assessment: A variety of procedures used to determine the stimuli that a person prefers, and the relative preference value of those stimuli, to increase the odds of selecting stimuli that function as reinforcers.

Successive approximations: The progressive training steps that are reinforced to ultimately form a specific desired behavior.

Tactile: Pertaining to the sense of touch.

Timeout: A short interval in which reinforcement is not available for any behavior, usually accompanied by the departure of the trainer or the trainers attention.

Two types of intermittent schedules: Ratio and intermittent.

Two types of punishment: Positive and Negative.

Unconditioned punisher: A stimulus whose presentation functions as a punisher without having been paired with any other punishers.

Unconditioned reinforcer: A stimulus change that functions as reinforcement even though the learner has no learning history with it. Examples: food, water, oxygen, warmth, sexual stimulation.

Undesirable behavior: Any behavior the trainer does not want.

Variable interval schedule (VI): Provides reinforcement for the first occurrence of a response after a variable duration of time.

Variable ratio (VR): A schedule that requires a varying number of responses to produce a reinforcer.