Secondary Punisher

The Secondary Punisher refers to a type of reinforcement technique or consequence that aims to reduce the occurrence of a certain behavior by presenting an unpleasant stimulus or removing a desired stimulus after the behavior has been exhibited.


The purpose of the Secondary Punisher is to discourage the repetition of an undesirable behavior by associating it with an unpleasant consequence. It focuses on suppressing or reducing the occurrence of specific behaviors through negative punishment or negative reinforcement.


The Secondary Punisher is implemented by administering an adverse stimulus or taking away a positive stimulus immediately following the unwanted behavior. This conditioning technique aims to create a negative association with the behavior, discouraging the individual from repeating it in the future.


Some examples of Secondary Punishers include:

  • Time-outs, where a person is temporarily removed from a desired activity or social interaction due to their behavior.
  • Loss of privileges, such as being restricted from using electronic devices or engaging in enjoyable activities as a consequence of inappropriate actions.
  • Verbal reprimands or criticism following a specific behavior, in order to discourage its recurrence.
  • Withholding rewards or positive reinforcements that the individual values, as a negative consequence of their behavior.


The effectiveness of the Secondary Punisher as a behavior modification technique varies depending on the individual and the context in which it is applied. While it may successfully deter certain undesirable behaviors in some cases, it may also have limitations and potential drawbacks.

If not carefully implemented, the use of Secondary Punishers can lead to negative emotional and psychological effects, potentially fostering fear, resentment, or defiance. It is important to ensure that the punishment is proportionate, applied immediately after the behavior, and combined with positive reinforcement to maintain a balanced and constructive approach to behavior modification.