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Shaping Behaviors: Unveiling the Power of Operant Conditioning

Learn operant conditioning’s influence on shaping our habits and behaviors.

Written by Sarah Hill
November 24th, 2023

As a concept operant conditioning not only influences our actions but can be a driving force for positive change.


In this blog, we’ll break down the key components of operant conditioning and showcase how it manifests in everyday life, as well as its unique connection to our VR meditation app with biofeedback, Healium.


What is Operant Conditioning? 

The main idea of operant conditioning is to understand how behavior is influenced by consequences. Unlike classical conditioning, operant conditioning focuses on voluntary actions. 


Behaviors are strengthened or weakened through positive and negative reinforcement or punishment. This dynamic process of learning helps individuals associate their actions with specific outcomes, making operant conditioning a key concept in psychology, applicable in various settings like meditation, education, parenting, and therapy.


Key Terms to Remember


Operant Stimulus (OS):

The operant stimulus is the external event or stimulus that follows a behavior. In the context of meditation, this could be a reward within the VR environment, like calming visuals or serene sounds.


Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement involves adding a pleasant stimulus to encourage a behavior. Consider the example of a user consistently achieving a deep meditative state being rewarded with a visually appealing scene or serene music.


Negative Reinforcement:

Negative reinforcement involves removing an aversive stimulus to encourage a behavior. In a meditation setting, this could be the gradual reduction of background noise as a user maintains focus, reinforcing the habit of sustained concentration.



Punishment involves introducing an aversive stimulus to decrease a behavior. While generally avoided in positive contexts like meditation apps, an example could be the introduction of a distracting element in the VR environment when a user becomes unfocused, aiming to discourage mind-wandering.


Examples of Operant Conditioning

Likely as not, you’ve encountered some form of operant conditioning throughout your life. Some common examples of operant conditioning include:



•  Positive Reinforcement:

A teacher praises a student for completing their homework, increasing the likelihood that the student will continue to complete assignments on time.



•  Negative Reinforcement:

A driver fastens their seatbelt to stop the annoying beeping sound in the car, reinforcing the behavior of wearing a seatbelt.



•  Positive Punishment:

A dog is scolded for chewing on the furniture, decreasing the likelihood of the dog repeating the behavior.



•  Negative Punishment:

A teenager loses their video game privileges for breaking a household rule, decreasing the likelihood of the teenager breaking the rule again.



•  Extinction:

Ignoring a child’s temper tantrum leads to a decrease in the frequency of tantrums over time.



•  Shaping:

Teaching a parrot to speak by rewarding partial attempts at words until a complete word is formed.



•  Token Economy:

In a classroom, students earn tokens for good behavior, which can later be exchanged for rewards.



•  Workplace Incentives:

Employees who meet or exceed performance targets receive bonuses, increasing the likelihood of continued high performance.



Operant Conditioning with Meditation & Neurofeedback:


Operant conditioning is not just a theoretical concept; it’s a powerful tool for cultivating positive habits and behaviors. At Healium, we’ve brought operant conditioning into the realm of meditation and biofeedback to offer a dynamic approach to shaping our desired behaviors.


Leveraging the advantage of real-time data on brainwaves, Healium dynamically adapts to user behavior, reinforcing positive meditation habits and fostering a sense of achievement.


As users engage in meditation within Healium, the operant stimuli within the virtual environment become catalysts for personal growth and well-being.


Discover the transformative potential of operant conditioning as you navigate the immersive landscapes of your mind. Let the positive reinforcements within Healium guide you on a journey of self-discovery and mental resilience.


To learn more about how to use Healium, watch the video below!



About the Author

Sarah Hill, a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered VR/AR channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.

Written by Sarah Hill
November 24th, 2023
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