Shaping Definition | Psychology Glossary

Shaping is a form of behavioral psychology that aims to train a living being to perform a desired behavior through reinforcing responses that are similar to the desired outcome.

For example, when my girlfriend wants me to clean the house, she’ll first reward me with a cookie anytime I pick up some dirty clothes off the ground. After she’s satisfied with my first step, she won’t reward me until I’ve picked up two pieces of clothing on the next attempt. This goes on and on until I’ve been “shaped” to clean the entire house in order to get a cookie.