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PSYB45H3 (300)
Lecture

PSYB45H3 Lecture Notes - Formant, Reinforcement, Headbanging


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB45H3
Professor
Zachariah Campbell

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Chapter 13: Understanding Problem Behaviours through Functional
Assessment
Functional Assessment: To help increase or decrease behaviour, it must be understood why the person
engages in the behaviour. To do so, you must conduct an assessment of the three-term contingency to
determine the antecedent events that evoke the behaviour and the reinforcing consequences that maintain
it. Identifying these variables before treating problem behaviour is its definition.
Example:
Antecedent: Other kids play with Jacobs toys
Behaviour: Jacob bangs his head, whines and throws toys
Consequence: The kids return Jacobs toys to him
Outcome: Jacob is more likely to engage in head-banging, whining, and toy-throwing when other children
play with his toys.
Treatment was applied then:
Antecedent: Other kids play with Jacobs toys
Behaviour: Jacob asks for his toys back
Consequence: The kids return Jacobs toys to him
Outcome: Jacob is more likely to ask for his toys back when other children play with them
The treatment used differential reinforcement to increase desirable behaviour and decrease
undesirable behaviour
Defining Functional Assessment: A process of gathering information about the antecedents and
consequences that are functionally related to the occurrence of a problem behaviour. It provides
information that helps you determine why a problem behaviour is occurring.
-it provides detailed information about antecedent stimuli
Categories of Information from a functional Assessment:
Problem behaviours: an objective description of the behaviours that make up the problem
Antecedents: an objective description of environmental events that follow the problem behaviour,
including aspects of the physical environment and the behaviour of other people.
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Alternative behaviours: information on desirable behaviours in the persons repertoire that may be
reinforced to compete with the problem behaviour
Motivational variables: information on environmental events that may function as establishing
operations to influence the effectiveness of reinforcers and punishers for the problem behaviours
and alternative behaviours
Potential reinforcers: information on environmental eventsincluding physical stimuli and the
behaviour of other people –that may function as reinforcers and be used in a treatment program.
Previous interventions: information on the interventions that have been used in the past and their
effects on the problem behaviour.
Functions of Problem Behaviours:
Social Positive Reinforcement: Mediated by another person, when a positively reinforcing consequence is
delivered by another person after the target behaviour; may involve attention, access to activities or
tangibles provided by another person.
Social Negative Reinforcement: when another person terminates an aversive interaction, task, or activity
after the occurrence of a target behaviour.
Automatic Positive Reinforcement: When the behaviour produces a reinforcing consequence automatically.
Automatic Negative reinforcement: when the target behaviour automatically reduces or eliminates an
aversive stimulus as a consequence of the behaviour. Ex. Closing a window to block a cold draft.
Functional Assessment Methods:
Indirect Methods: behavioural interviews or questionnaires are used to gather information from
the person exhibiting the problem behaviour or from others who know this person well. This method is
also known as informant assessment methods because an informant is providing information in response
to assessment questions. This method is easy to conduct and dont take much time. Interview formats and
questionnaires are available for use in conducting a functional assessment. A disadvantage is that
informants must rely on memory of the events. Thus, interviews or questionnaires may be incorrect as a
result of forgetting or bias. It is used commonly due to convenience.
A good behavioural interview is one that is structured to generate information from the informant
that is clear and objective. Goal of the behavioural interview is to generate information on the problem
behaviours, antecedents, consequences, and other variables that will permit you to form a hypothesis
about the controlling variables for the problem. At the same time, an effective interview teaches the client
or informant about functional assessment.
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