The Premack Principle is a theory of reinforcement stating that a desired activity or behavior can reinforce the performance of a less desired activity or behavior. David Premack created this theory when he first evaluated how one behavior can reinforce another. Early evidence for the Premack principle resulted after Premack completed an experiment. He assessed the preferences of children to determine whether they enjoyed playing pinball or eating candy. To test this behavior, he had children play pinball for them to eat candy and afterward had the children eat candy for them to be able to participate in pinball. The children in this experiment who preferred the second behavior experienced an effect of reinforcement, supporting the Premack principle.
This principle is key to behavior modification and is often used in applied behavior analysis. Other researchers have conducted studies proving the effectiveness of the Premack principle in modifying behavior using rewards and reinforcement. Another example of this is if a parent wants their child to eat more healthily, which to a child is less desirable. However, the child may be more interested in playing in the park with friends. The parent can then motivate the child to eat better, so that after they can play in the park which is the preferred activity. The child will do so more willingly being that there is a reward, playing outside.
I can connect to this theory and believe that my parents often followed the principles of this theory when I was a child. I often couldn't have friends over unless I cleaned my room, or couldn't eat my favorite snack until all my homework was finished. This motivated me to get the less preferred activity done and out of the way before I was able to enjoy doing another activity. The Premack principle can lead to increased motivation and ultimately changes unhealthy habits/behaviors to healthy ones.
Vinney, C. (2019, October 7). What is the Premack Principle? Definition and examples. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/premack-principle-4771729