Negative Reinforcement: Application Question

By Heidi Tobe on November 1, 2021

negative reinforcement

We’re back with more on negative reinforcement! Today wraps up our series comparing recall vs. application vs. reasoning questions. Throughout 2021, every two months we’ve taken a topic that could show up on the ASWB exams and compared two ways it could be tested. February and March covered Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In April and May we looked at Antisocial Personality Disorder. In June and July we covered the differences between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. Last month, we tackled the topic of negative reinforcement with a recall question. This month we’re back with a final question on negative reinforcement, with a practice application question.  

Reminder: there’s nothing ‘negative’ about ‘negative reinforcement’.

As we discussed last week, people often confuse negative reinforcement with punishment because of the meaning we place on the word ‘negative.’ When it comes to behaviorism, the most important thing to remember is this:

Positive does NOT mean good and Negative does NOT mean bad. (Check out last month’s blog post for more on positive vs. negative and reinforcement vs. punishment). 

Recall vs. Application

Last month’s question was a straightforward, factual recall question on negative reinforcement. Application questions also test factual knowledge, but they take it a step further. Application questions test your ability to apply factual knowledge to a scenario. This month’s practice question challenges you to apply your knowledge of reinforcement and punishment and apply it to a specific client scenario. Let’s see how you do!

ASWB Application Practice Question

A social worker has been meeting with a teenage client around school performance issues. The client excitedly shares with the social worker that they have turned in every homework assignment for two weeks straight. The social worker asks what helped them stay on track and the client responds ‘I was just so sick of getting yelled at by my parents every night.’ This is an example of:

A. Positive Reinforcement

B. Negative Reinforcement

C. Positive Punishment

D. Negative Punishment

(scroll for answer and rationale)














The correct answer is B: Negative reinforcement. The desired behavior was turning in their homework. When they did so, the yelling by their parents was removed.  

ASWB Masters and Clinical Exam Preparation 

How did you do with today’s application question? Did you find it easier or harder than a recall question on the same topic? Whether you’re taking the LMSW or LCSW exam, recall and application questions make up a smaller portion of the exam than reasoning based questions. The good news is, TDC will prepare you for all three types of questions. Unlike many other programs that focus pretty exclusively on factual recall and application, we teach you the foundational reasoning skills necessary for exam success. If you aren’t already signed up for one of our programs yet, we encourage you to read some of the testimonials of social workers just like you who passed using TDC. TDC has helped THOUSANDS of social workers successfully pass their social work licensing exams. Are you next?


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