Behavior Modification – Reading Notes
January 6, 2010 – CH 1 – Introduction to Behavior Modification
•How is human behavior defined?
•What are the defining features of behavior modification?
•What are the historical roots of behavior modification?
•In what ways has behavior modification improved people’s lives?
There are certain characteristics that define behavior:
-What people do and say, it is described with action verbs. Behavior is not static, anger is static, aggression
(which generally comes from anger) is dynamic behavior that one can see and alter.
-Different dimensions that can be measured, for example the frequency of a behavior, the duration of the
behavior and the intensity of the behavior - these are all physical dimensions of behavior.
-Behavior can be observed, described and recorded by others. It also has an impact on the physical and social
environment, whether it is the environment, other people or oneself.
-It is also lawful it is systematically influenced by environmental events. Once one understands the
environmental building blocks, only then can one change specific behaviors
-They can also be overt and covert: overt is an action that can be observed and recorded and covert behaviors
are not observable by others, they tend to be inner events, such as thinking and emotions.
The defining features of behavior modification are: analyzing and modifying.
-Analyzing - identifying the relationship between the environmental events and a behavior to understand the
reason better why someone behaves the way they do.
-Modifying - developing and implementing procedures to help people change their behavior
Characteristics of Behavioural Modification
-Focus on Behaviour - The behavior to be modified is called the target behavior, a behavioral excess is a
behavior that a person wants to decrease such as smoking, and a behavioral deficit is a desirable behavior that
a person wants to increase.
-Behavioural Principles - The scientific study of behavior is called the experimental analysis of
behavior/applied behavior analysis.
-Emphasis on current environmental events
-Precise description of behaviour modification procedures
-Treatment implemented by people in everyday life.
-Measurement of behaviour change.
-De-emphasis on past events as causes of behaviour
-Rejection of hypothetical underlying causes of behaviour.
-Must remember that a label is not a behavior.
The historical roots of behavior modification are:
-Ivan P. Pavlov -Pavlov’s dogs, he called it conditioned reflex
-Edward L. Thorndike - major contribution was the law of effect a behavior that produces a favorable effect
is more likely to be repeated.
-John B. Watson - He started behaviorism and stimulus-response psychology
-B. F. Skinner - distinction between respondent and operant conditioning, Skinner’s work is the foundation for
People have been researching behavior modification with people and have been demonstrating the principles and
evaluating the procedures with people.
How behavior modification helps people:
Developmental disabilities, mental illness, education (special ed), rehabilitation, community psychology, clinical
psychology (CBT), Business industry & human services (organizational business), self-management, child
management, prevention, sports psychology, health related behaviors and gerontology