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Definition and Efficacy of Punishment

Other experiments in the behavioral sciences and in the laboratory have tested the degree to which negative versus positive reinforcement (including physical punishments as well as time-outs and so forth) succeed in fostering behavioral changes (Coleman 148 û149). Coleman (211) noted that individuals subjected to excessive punishment (physical or psychological) during childhood and adolescence often develop severe neuroses, anxieties, phobias, and even psychoses as a result of maltreatment. This psychologist noted that disciplinary tactics or strategies that are excessive, brutal, and frightening can have a reverse effect; they can foster aggression and anger in the recipient, leading to the establishment of behaviors that are undesirable. Victims of excessive punishment and physical maltreatment often become victimizers who inflict violence (verbal as well as physical) on others.

Others, including Kagan and Havemann (110), noted that punishment could induce what is called 'learned helplessness' in the developing child. While most humans respond to negative reinforcement or punishment by modifying their behaviors to avoid any punishing or hurtful consequences, others simply become helpless û unable to respond effectively to situations of any kind and, therefore, not responsible (to themselves) for their behaviors. Further, Kagan and Havemann (109) state that while in some cases, certain types of punishment may help children and babies to learn, punishment meted out to older children and adults may be less effective; indeed, punishment can lead to intense feelings of anger directed at the punishing adult or p


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Definition and Efficacy of Punishment. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:09, August 23, 2017, from
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