PS 515 Unit 7 Assignment: Learning and Behavior

PS 515-01: Learning and Behavior


Unit 7 Assignment

Unit 7 Assignment

For this assignment we are to evaluate the case of five-year-old Ben. He is out shopping with his caregiver, and he wants a pack of bubblegum and he asks if he can have it. The caregiver in turn tells him “no”, because his parents do not allow him to have gum. The caregiver is not looking at Ben and he puts the gum in his pocket. When Ben and his caregiver are exiting the store, they are stopped by the owner who saw Ben steal the gum. The store owner is mad and informs the caregiver that she should spank Ben for doing this, and it will teach him that stealing is bad and wrong. The caregiver who is a psychology graduate does not agree with this because spanking Ben will not teach him that stealing is wrong. This paper will discuss why spanking is wrong and it will evaluate some learning models as well.

If the caregiver does in fact spank Ben for stealing the pack of gum, it will teach him that hitting is the answer for when someone does something that is wrong. Spanking Ben is not the answer to what he has done. The caregiver should make him tell the owner that he is sorry for stealing the gum and make him give it back. This will hurt Ben more than a spanking would, because he would be embarrassed (Chance, 2014).

There are some people that may say that Ben should have a spanking, because they have the impression that no spanking is the same thing is a non- discipline policy or telling the child that their behavior is ok (Straus, 2001). Spanking a child can increase the chance of the child a delinquent, it may cause the child to end up having a problem with anxiety because he or she would always be afraid that they may be hit. Hitting is not an answer when a child does something wrong. In this situation if Ben likes to play video games or watch his favorite television shows, the caregiver should make him go the rest of the day with no television and no video games and explain to him how wrong it is to steal, this type of punishment is better.

By the caregiver taking away Ben’s video games and his television privileges she will be using what is known as negative punishment, because he is losing his privileges that he loves so much (Chance, 2014). Ben will learn more from this type of punishment, versus him getting a spanking. Once his parents arrive home the caregiver should explain what happened and make them aware that she has explained to him how wrong it is to steal, and that she did not allow him to play his video games or watch television.

Observational learning is a change in a person’s behavior because they observe a model. For example, if Ben has been with a family member that has stolen something in front of Ben, this is giving him the impression that it is ok to steal (Chance, 2014). Now if Ben has saw someone stealing that has been caught and receive a prison sentence this would be him seeing vicarious punishment which will let him know that stealing is wrong.

If the caregiver spanks Ben, this could be teaching him the Bandura social cognitive theory, which includes the components of observation, motivation, and imitation. In the situation of Ben, he would see the behavior of his caregiver in reaction to him stealing. He will pay attention to the punishment that the caregiver gave him which would be taking away his video games and not allowing him to watch television. He would learn that there are other ways of solving a problem without hitting (Gershoff, 2013).

If the caregiver were to spank Ben for stealing the pack of bubblegum this would teach him that whenever a person does something wrong that the punishment would be to hit. Ben would pay attention to this type of punishment because getting a spanking is physical pain, but this would be the wrong thing to do, because Ben may grow up thinking that hitting is the answer to solve problems (Rosenberg, 2017). This would be the wrong thing for Ben to learn and he is at an impressionable age seeing how he is only five-years old.

If the caregiver were to spank Ben, this would be associated with transmission of aggression and Ben could imitate this aggression from learning from his caregiver. This would be supported in the Bandura’s social cognitive theory, because young children were used in different situations that involved spanking as a punishment, and all that this did was teach the children that when they were unhappy in a situation that the answer was to hit and yell and scream (Chance, 2014).

The social cognitive theory has four main parts one is the observer which in this situation would be Ben he would pay attention to the caregiver giving him a spanking. Next Ben could retain this behavior and, in this situation, would be the spanking. Next Ben would grow up and have the ability to perform this behavior. Last Ben would possess the motivation to exhibit this type of behavior (Chance, 2014).

If the caregiver remembers this four things, and have the attitude that spanking is not the answer, then she may very well modify Ben’s behavior in telling him how wrong it is to steal, versus her just spanking him. Ben more than likely did not like the fact that he was not allowed to play his video games and to watch television, but this taught him a valuable lesson and that is that hitting or yelling and screaming is not the way to solve problems, or the correct punishment for when a person does something wrong (Chance, 2014).

Ben will remember that he stole the pack of bubblegum and that he was punished, and that he was not spanked. This will let him know that when something goes wrong or someone does something wrong that there are more ways to deal with it other than hitting. A child does not need to be raised in an environment where he or she is yelled at all the time or that is getting hit, because this type of behavior can cause the child to grow up thinking that it is ok to hit people, and to emotionally abuse someone. Being exposed to this type of behavior can cause a person to experience things such as anxiety, depression, among other things (Chance, 2014).

The caregiver in this situation did the right thing when she disagreed with the store owner that Ben deserved a spanking. Ben’s parents trusted the caregiver to take care of Ben and not to harm him in anyway, and spanking can in fact harm a child in the long run. The caregiver in this case should wait until she gets Ben home and then talk to him in a calm voice and explain to him how wrong it is to steal and what can happen to a person if they are caught performing this type of behavior. She should also explain to him that he has to be punished so that he will learn that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, and by her taking away something that he likes to do, will help him more than if she were to spank him (Gershoff, 2013).


There are a lot of parents that will raise their child and use the punishment of spanking when the child does something wrong. Spanking is not always the answer to a problem; this type of punishment can have bad effects on a child. A child will always look up to a trusted adult such as a relative or a caregiver, and they may even imitate them, this may make the adult feel good, but they have to keep in mind that a child is very impressionable and there may come a day when the child will want to do the same things that they have witnessed the model doing. Adults should always want to set good examples for children, because children learn what they see. Ben may have seen a family member or a previous caregiver steal something before, and this could be why he thought that it may be ok to steal. But the caregiver in this case did the right thing by not spanking Ben, and the store owner clearly agrees with spanking because that was the first thing that he suggested that the caregiver should do to Ben. The physical pain of a spanking would go away, but Ben would remember it in a bad way. But by the caregiver talking to him and taking things that he liked to do away from him would teach him a very important lesson and that is that it is not ok to spank or yell and scream in order to solve a problem.


Chance, P. (2014). Learning and behavior. (7th ed). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Gershoff, E. T. (2013). Spanking and child development: We know enough now to stop

hitting our children. Child Development Perspectives, 7(3), 133-137.

Rosenberg, M. B. (2017). Raising children compassionately. Journal of Holistic Healthcare,

14(1), 4-7.

Straus, M. A. (2001). New evidence for the benefits of never spanking. Society, 38(6),