Conditioning at Mickey D’s Discussion

Conditioning at Mickey D’s Discussion

Operant conditioning is one of the topics in psychology that is easiest to see in your everyday life. To prepare for this discussion, you will be asked to observe interactions between parents and their children in a fast food restaurant. Detailed instructions will be found below but remember to be respectful of others by observing in an unobtrusive manner.

By completing this discussion, you will demonstrate that you are able to:

  • Identify operant conditioning and observational learning,
  • Identify/Apply/Explain Thorndike’s Law of Effect,
  • Identify ways to increase the likelihood a behavior will occur and ways to decrease the likelihood a behavior will occur,
  • Apply operant conditioning including schedules of reinforcement to everyday examples,
  • Define observational learning and provide examples,
  • Organize and accurately present material, and
  • Apply APA formatting within the text and for end-of-text references, when appropriate


  1. Choose any fast food restaurant(McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, etc.).
  2. Observe the parent-child interactions for a sufficient length of time that you can address the questions below. You are to observe how parents use the principles of operant conditioning, where they misuse them, and where they fail to use them but should. You can observe in the main dining area or the play area, if they have one, or both. You may not include any drive up observations.
  3. Answer the following in your initial posting:
    • What do parents do, at a fast food restaurant, to encourage desirable behaviors and discourage undesirable behaviors? Describe the restaurant (including if it has a play area), date, and time of observation. Also, describe those observed (adults and children) including age, gender, and race.
    • Are the principles of operant conditioning being used? What did you observe that demonstrated the principle being discussed? How effective was the technique? Specifically describe where you see:
      • Thorndike’s Law of Effect
      • Positive reinforcement
      • Negative reinforcement
      • Punishment
      • Extinction
      • Schedules of reinforcement
    • Include any comments, such as misuse or failure to use learning principles, questions that came up, or surprises.

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