Its a single word that essentially means something like motivation.

There are both positive and negative versions of it like positive something - motivate by giving reward when someone does a good thing, or negative something - motivate by punishing when someone does a bad thing.

I knew that word a long time ago, but presently beats my memory! Can you help me out?

  • 1
    Reward and motivation seem to me more scientific than deterrent and incitement, otherwise I'd suggest them.
    – Hugh
    May 20, 2015 at 4:09
  • Not deterrent or incitement. The word was something else. May 20, 2015 at 4:11
  • Thanks, but I got it. Its Reinforcement! May 20, 2015 at 4:13
  • I knew that you were thinking of "reinforcement", but be careful... it doesn't mean "motivation,"
    – Oldbag
    May 20, 2015 at 8:41
  • Right. It means, respectively, reward (positive) or punishment (negative). May 20, 2015 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


You're talking about positive/negative reinforcement/punishment. But, be careful how you're using those terms! Quick breakdown:

  • positive - add something
  • negative - take something away
  • reinforcement - encourage behavior
  • punishment - discourage behavior

So, to combine those two axes:

  • positive reinforcement - give something to encourage behavior, e.g., "Here's this candy for raking the yard."
  • negative reinforcement - take something to encourage behavior, e.g., "I'll stop screaming in your ear if you sweep the floors."
  • positive punishment - give something to discourage behavior, e.g., "You get a spanking for breaking the TV."
  • negative punishment - take something to discourage behavior, e.g., "I'm taking your XBox away for a month because you hit your brother."

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