Secondary Reinforcement

Secondary reinforcement refers to a type of reinforcement that is not inherently rewarding but becomes rewarding through association with primary reinforcers or the fulfillment of basic needs.

Secondary reinforcement relies on the concept of conditioned or learned associations, where a neutral stimulus acquires value or reinforcement properties from being paired with primary reinforcers or satisfying stimuli.

Characteristics of Secondary Reinforcement:

  1. Acquired Value: Secondary reinforcers gain their value through learned associations and become reinforcing based on their connection with primary reinforcers.
  2. Dependence on Primary Reinforcers: Secondary reinforcers are dependent on primary reinforcers because their reinforcing properties are derived from the association with primary reinforcers.
  3. Variability: Secondary reinforcers can vary across individuals and cultures as they are learned associations and can be influenced by personal experiences and social contexts.
  4. Conditional Nature: The reinforcing value of secondary reinforcers is contingent upon their ability to elicit or predict the availability of primary reinforcers.
  5. Transference: Secondary reinforcers can transfer their reinforcing properties to other stimuli through generalization, resulting in a broadened range of conditioned reinforcement.

Examples of secondary reinforcers include praise, awards, money, grades, and social recognition among humans, as they acquire reinforcing properties by being associated with primary reinforcers such as food, safety, or affiliation.