Operant Conditioning Method In Tea Gathering Process

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Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. The behavioural component of attitudes is important because people draw inferences about the attitudes, beliefs, values, and intentions of an individual by observing what they say and what they do. In this situation a tea plantation in Jorhat has brought in an automatic machine for cutting tea leaves which the workers are resisting. Operant conditioning can be used to strengthen desirable attitudes and weaken undesirable ones, in following report we are trying to change the attitudes of workers towards the usage of machines, using operant conditioning.



Tea Estate in Jorhat is used to the traditional handpicking of the tea leaves. The management has decided to bring in tea leaves plucking machine into use for more productivity and resolve the problem of labour shortage. This was also done with a motive to reduce cost of production. By using the machine harvesting method the estate wants to reduce the harvest time as well as increase the per cycle yield. But the workers are resisting the transition to the new technology and have refused to work as it may endanger their job security.

Be it any machine ultimately, it’s the labour only who operate those machines to produce the desired results. When the automatic machine for cutting tea leaves were brought in, the workers started resisting its use as they were unfamiliar to use it. This was a major setback for the whole management as its very important to have all the employees/labours brought in to the change. This needs to be dealt with utmost care in order to successfully bring the change. The management should understand the various reasons behind this resistance and try to overcome those and work accordingly.


  • To know the various reasons behind the resistance of the labour
  • To find different ways that can be adopted by managers to tackle the situation (focusing on operant conditioning)
  • To understand how operant conditioning can help to bring a major change.
  • To come to the conclusion of what this measure can result in.


Managing resistance to change starts with understanding it. The introduction of recent technology within the workforce has historically posed a significant threat to workers’ sense of security, stability and purpose. Key reasons people resist change can include:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Not being consulted
  • Lack of communication
  • Threat to expertise or status
  • No clear benefits or value
  • Unclear on the need for change
  • Effort required to learn
  • Lack the skills to use it
  • Distrust management
  • Hardwired habits


Anticipate the most reasons your employees could be reluctant to use your new tool before you introduce it. It is also suggested to actively consult them during the tool research stage. It’ll assist you to lead from an edge of empathy and adopt strategies that actually address people’s concerns and reservations.

The different ways in which it can be done are:

Overcome opposition: Be it any way of how a company (in this case Tea Plantation) manages a change, there will always be some amount of resistance. The tea plantation should engage those labourers who are resting to change as this would make them understand what actually is the concern and what is the reason behind labourer’s resistance. This would make them feel to be the part of the team and believe that the team actually cares about its employees.

Communicate change effectively: one of the ways a manager should adopt is to communicate to the employees what exactly is going on. This can be done by using a mixture of both formal and informal communication. The different ways will help the employees understand the exact visions, goals and expectation of the firm.

Implementing Changes ibn several stages: “Roam was not built in a day” similarly, changes don’t happen all at once. The plantation firm should first prepare the employees for the change, then finally take action and implement it.

Connect to peoples need: This is simple to hear but it’s actually very difficult to implement. The manager should always portray the benefits to the employees as to what impact will the change have on their working pattern. They don’t want to hear that what benefits will the company get or how cost effective it will be for the company.

Unfortunately, this is very difficult as technology adoption follows a complicated calculation. The degree of adoption and learning is different from person to person depending on their experience, interest and familiarity with technology.

The most effective way can be using of Operant conditioning which would be explained further.

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Management can take concrete steps to deal constructively with these labour attitudes. One way the manager can use is by operant conditioning. Operant conditioning states that behaviour is a function of its consequences. People learn to behave to get something they want to or to avoid something they don’t want. Operant conditioning means voluntary or learned behaviour instead of reflexive or unlearned behaviour. This is influenced by the reinforcement or lack of it which is brought about the consequences of that behaviour. The reinforcement strengthens the behaviour and increases the likelihood that it will be repeated. The managers by using this method can communicate with the labourers and inform them that now onwards they will be emphasizing on new standards of performances and encouraging them to think in a different way. They should also state that resistance to this can serve as a practical warning signal for the employees.

Positive Reinforcement: According to conditioning, positive reinforcement is that the positive response that’s given to an employee who displays good behaviour. This positive response increases the prospect that the worker will display great behaviour more often. Rewards are a sort of motivation to repeat good behaviour, but aren’t essential. However, if rewards are chosen, they might be financial bonuses, days off, or other encouraging measures. After Herzberg’s research, we all know that rewards boost extrinsic motivation.

Negative Reinforcement: According to conditioning, negative reinforcement occurs when someone is rewarded by removing negative or undesired consequences of a certain behaviour to encourage positive behaviour. Negative reinforcement is usually confused with punishment, but those are certainly different. Negative reinforcement tries to strengthen positive behaviour, whereas punishment is aimed toward reducing the prospect of bad behaviour.

Punishment: Punishment refers to the negative behavioural consequences and must not be confused with negative reinforcement, which involves removing a negative behavioural consequence. Punishment is aimed toward reducing the prospect of specific negative behaviours. It’s one of the most frequently used methods to control behaviour, but many experts suggest that it shouldn’t only be used as positive and negative reinforcement, or as eradication.

Extinction: In the operant conditioning paradigm, Extinction refers to the process of no longer receiving the reinforcement that has sustained a behaviour, in the operant conditioning model. Operating extinction differs from forgetting in that the latter refers to a loss in a behaviour ‘s intensity over time because it was not transmitted.


The manager should use the reinforcement techniques stated in operant conditioning in the following ways:

Highlight quick wins:

The management should reinforce the employees in a positive way when they begin to use the technology more and more. It should also highlight the positive impact it will have on the organisation. Moreover, if the quick wins are publicized it not only encourages further adoption but also encourages other employees. Employees should always be aware of the fact and get motivated through the fact that if they adapt the new technology efficiently, they will be rewarded and recognised in the organisation.

Considering Penalties:

If the plantation still suffers from the same problem, they should consider instituting penalties for non-use of the technology. The degree depends on how damaging it proves for the organisation. For example, they can say only the worked done with the help of the automated machine would be counted and rest will be gone in vague. Be it any firm there should be a fear of loosing a job or being punished in the subconscious mind of the employees that they will suffer if not done work according to the organisation they work in, in this case the resistance of the employees from adopting new technologies.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Capture hearts and minds by emphasizing how the new technology enhances the corporation and makes life easier for the employees.
  • Promotes adoption by rewarding workers in ways that benefit them best.
  • Build the new technology into working-day routines and rhythms as soon as possible.


  • Choose a technology that is more challenging than it needs to be; choose an approachable and intuitive framework for fast adoption
  • Neglect the importance of having the most prominent workers on board early on in the process; it will help you get along with others
  • Skip to discipline non-technology employees; fines should be a last resort in the absence of bonuses and benefits

If these above-mentioned suggestions are used by the plantation there is a high chance to reduce the resistance level and persuade the employees to adopt the new technology.


The theory of operant conditioning can be used to modify actions. By using either positive or negative reinforcement, we can promote or discourage a certain trait that we desire. We will be able to form actions by following this principle suggested by Skinner. This can be achieved by either rewarding actions, or punishment. Studies have shown that operant conditioning is the most effective learning technique that can be used in both humans and animals to alter behaviours.

The operant conditioning is totally relevant in this tea plantation case and would prove to be effective once used by the management. The manager needs to only understand in how effective they can make this operant conditioning implementation. No employee wants to lose their job and if the consequences are clearly mentioned to them, they will definitely work according in the fear of the repercussion. In the similar way every employee wants success and have a desire to be awarded and recognised. They work towards the goal and will not resist if the rewards are clearly mentioned by the organisation.


  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/tea-expert-recommends-mechanised-plucking-of-tea-leaves/articleshow/59504911.cms
  2. https://www.toolshero.com/psychology/operant-conditioning-bf-skinner/
  3. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-reduce-employee-resistance-to-change-1918992
  4. https://hbr.org/1969/01/how-to-deal-with-resistance-to-change
  5. https://www.paycor.com/resource-center/change-management-in-the-workplace-why-do-employees-resist-it

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Operant Conditioning Method In Tea Gathering Process. (2021, September 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/operant-conditioning-method-in-tea-gathering-process/
“Operant Conditioning Method In Tea Gathering Process.” Edubirdie, 23 Sept. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/operant-conditioning-method-in-tea-gathering-process/
Operant Conditioning Method In Tea Gathering Process. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/operant-conditioning-method-in-tea-gathering-process/> [Accessed 27 May 2022].
Operant Conditioning Method In Tea Gathering Process [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 23 [cited 2022 May 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/operant-conditioning-method-in-tea-gathering-process/
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