Steve Wood, Ph.D. & Bill Kanasky, Jr., Ph.D. discuss part 2 of the operant conditioning topic and how opposing counsel uses operant conditioning to derail witnesses during both deposition and trial testimony. Operant conditioning is the creation of an association between a behavior and the outcome and can include positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment. It's important to understand that negative reinforcement is not the same as punishment; negative reinforcement is the elimination of a negative stimulus, not punishment.
Witnesses need to educated on how the questioner could use operant conditioning during their questioning, including rewarding answers that opposing counsel likes and delivering negative reinforcement for answers they don't like. This is challenging for an untrained witness's brain to decipher and manage. Bill and Steve discuss how powerful negative reinforcement is and also how positive reinforcement is used to manipulate the witness. Lastly, they discuss the topic of punishment and how opposing counsel can use punishment with witnesses to achieve their objectives.