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ch 11

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Zachariah Campbell

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Behavioral chaining
Behavioral chain is a sequence of discriminative stimuli (S Ds) & responses
(Rs) in which each response except the last produces the S D for the next
response & the last response is followed by a reinforcer.
Each S D (after the 1st) in a behavioral chain is a conditioned reinforcer for the
pervious response
A stimulus response chain writing out as follows:
The stimulus-response connections are the links that hold the chain together
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link Similarly if any response is so
weak that it fails to be evoked by the S D preceding it the next S D will not be
produced & the rest of the chain will not occur
Chain will be broken at the point of its weakest link
The only way in which to repair the chain is to strengthen the weak stimulus-
response connection by means of effective training procedure
The symbol S+ at the far right of the diagram symbolizes the positive reinforcer
that follow the last response in the chain
The reinforcer at the end of the chain maintains the stimuli in the chain as
effective SDs for the response that follow them & effective conditioned
reinforcers for the responses that precede them
Many behavioral sequences that you perform in everyday life are behavioral
Playing a particular song on musical instrument, brushing ur teeth,
lacing & trying ur shoes, & making a sandwich are all behavioral
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Not all behavioral sequences are behavioral chains
Methods for teaching a behavioral chain
3 major methods of teaching a behavioral chain
1 methods is called total-task presentation- the learner attempts all
the steps from the beginning to the end of the chain on each trail &
continues with total task trails until all steps are mastered
Prompting is provided at each step as needed & reinforcer follows
correct completion of the last step
2nd major methods of teaching a behavioral chain is called backward
chaining- this method gradually constructs the chain in a reverse
order from that in which the chain is performed
Last step is established 1st then the next-to-last step is taught &
linked to the last step then the 3rd-from-last step is taught & linked
to the last 2 steps and so on progressing backward toward the
beginning of the chain
The power of the positive reinforcer that is presented at the end of
the chain is transferred up the line to each SD as it is added to the
Backward chaining has a theoretical advantage of always having a
built-in conditioned reinforcer to strengthen each response that is
added to the sequence
3rd major method of teaching a behavioral chain is called forward
chaining- the initial steps are taught & linked together then the 1st 3
steps & so on until the entire chain is acquired
Ex: used to toilet train both normal & developmentally
disabled children
Backward chaining resembles a reversal of the natural order of things
forward chaining & total-task presentation are used more often in
everyday situation outside the behavior modification setting.
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