Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Difference between a marker and a secondary reinforcer?

  1. Nov 24, 2014 #1
    A marker is something that makes up for the delay of reinforcement by signalling to the subject "reinforcement is coming" For example saying "good dog" before giving your dog a treat.

    Secondary reinforcement is when something becomes reinforcing / causes pleasure through it's association with a reinforcement. e.g. dog loves to love praise. People love money because you can buy stuff with money.

    So aren't they the same thing? Are there any concrete experiments or exampes of where they are different?

    If you go here http://books.google.com.tr/books?id...sychology marking procedure lieberman&f=false
    On page 332 it says that because they used the marker whether there was reinforcement or not, they can be confident it wasn't a secondary reinforcer. I don't understand how that follows.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 28, 2014 #2
    I can't view the page, but in any case I'll try to give you an answer.

    A marker can be viewed as a signal that identifies a particular behavior or response. Looking at it from a non-rigorous point of view, it can also be seen as something that "imparts information" about a behavior.
    Secondary reinforcement is, as you, say, when something becomes reinforcing through its association with a primary reinforcer. This "something" is then called a secondary reinforcer.

    Not all markers signal reinforcement, and not all markers are secondary reinforcers. For example, in dog training there is something known as a no-reward marker. One of the ways to use it is as so: Whenever the dog offers the correct behavior, reward him. When he offers an incorrect behavior, signal with the marker and give no reward. What happens over time is that the dog stops offering said incorrect behavior. Why? If we look at it as "imparting information", the no-reward marker has told the dog, "when I do this behavior, I don't get a treat". Note that here the marker functions here as a form of negative punishment, not reinforcement!

    If we look at it more rigorously, the no-reward marker has been paired/associated with a punishment, and the incorrect behavior has then been associated with the no-reward marker.

    Now lets look at a marker that is a reinforcer, like a clicker. Before training, the clicker is repeatedly paired with rewards. During training, correct behaviors are marked by clicking the clicker, and a reward is given. Because the clicker is consistently paired with reinforcement, in this case it usually does become a secondary reinforcer.

    As for the quote about being confident that the marker is not a secondary reinforcer: the marker must be consistently paired with reinforcement to become a secondary reinforcer. If something is associated equally with reinforcement and with a neutral or punishing response - or in fact, with any two conflicting stimuli - there's no reason for it to become preferentially associated with one of the types of stimuli. Think of those little jingles peoples smartphones make when they get a message from one of their friends. Every time they hear that jingle, they hare highly likely to check their phone. This is because the jingle has been consistently paired with getting a message. If however, I programmed someone's phone to jingle half the time because they got a message, and half the time randomly throughout the day, they would become much less likely to automatically check their phone. I won't expand on this because, as I said, I can't view the page.

    Hope that helped. :)
  4. Nov 28, 2014 #3
    Thanks! that's so so so helpful!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook