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Chapter 2

PSYB45H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Shampoo, Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavioral Cusp

Course Code
Amanda Uliaszek

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Chapter 2
Identifying and assessing target behaviors
Goals and target behaviors: 1) Identifying and defining behavioral goals. 2) Defining operant target
behaviors. 3) Defining respondent target behaviors. 4) Prioritizing: which behavior to address first
How to assess target behaviors: 1) Types of data. 2) Strategies for assessing behavior. 3) Timing and
accuracy of behavioral assessments
Tips on identifying and assessing behavior
Goals and target behaviors
Target behavior: Objective and unambiguous so that it identifies exactly what the person does that
constitutes the behavioral excess or deficit you want to change. The definition is stated in such a way
that someone who doesnt know the target person would understand what the behavior is and would
identify the same instances of the behavior that you'd see if you were both observing the person
Examples of target behaviors
Cuticle biting: The person's finger is in her mouth and the teeth are chewing on the skin beside the nail.
Exercising: The person is jogging on a treadmill at 3.5 miles an hour at 5% incline for 30 minutes plus 3
minutes each of warm-up and cooldown at lower speeds and no incline
Having a tantrum: The person is crying, screaming and being aggressive, such as by kicking or pounding
on objects or surfaces
Whining: The person is expressing a complaint verbally in high and wavering pitches.
Notice that: Each defined target behavior includes active verbs to describe the specific acts.
Identifying and defining behavioral goals
Types of goals: 1) Outcome goals. 2) Behavioral goals.
Outcome goals: The broad or abstracted results we want to achieve. Usually very obvious and
straightforward. Associated with an outcome that is desired.
Behavioral goals: The level of the target behavior we hope to achieve in a program. Sometimes
outcome and behavioral goals are the same (when both goals simply involve quitting a particular
Examples of outcome goals vs behavioral goals

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Losing weight: 1) Outcome goal: losing weight. 2) Behavioral goal: reduce snacking to two servings per
Reducing cash register shortages in a small restaurant: 1) Outcome goal: to have cash in the register
equal the register tape totals at the end of each day. If a shortage exceeded 1% of daily sales, the
cashier's salary was docked to cover the loss. The program succeeded in achieving the outcome goal but
did not identify a behavioral goal. 2) Lack of behavioral goal may present a problem because the cashiers
could meet the goal in different ways. E.g. shortcoming customers, under-ringing sales on the register
After defining behavioral goals
After defining behavioral goals: 1) Identify and define target behavior and behavioral goals in
measurable terms. Failure to do this may result in two things: 1) Think behavior occurred when it didnt.
2) Did not notice behavior occurred when it did.
Behavioral sub-goals: Intermediate levels of the behavior to be achieve by specific dates during the
Defining operant target behaviors
Detail of target behavior definition: The amount of specificity in the definition of target behavior goal
depends on the specific behavior. E.g. if you wanted to modify how fast you chew each bite of food,
you'd need to define "bite" and "slower".
Overt and covert behaviors
Overt behaviors: We usually define external (overt) behaviors more clearly and measure them more
objctively than internal (covert) behaviors.
Covert behaviors: Harder to define internal behaviors (thoughts, feelings, physiological changes).
Measuring internal behaviors may be very subjective unless you have a means of objectifying it (e.g.
using an ECG for heart rate).
Complex behaviors
Complex behaviors: Sometimes a target behavior involves learning a complex set of responses.
Behavioral chain: A motor activity that consists of a complex sequence of antecedents (stimuli) and
responses. To perform a chain correctly, the links must be done in a particular order.
Link: Each antecedent-response pair making up the behavioral chain
Example of a behavioral chain
Link 1: See shampoo bottle reach and grab bottle
Link 2: See and feel grasp turn so spout is pointed down
Link 3: See pointed down pull off cap

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Link 4: See cap off pour shampoo onto hand
Link 5: See shampoo glob in hand replace cap
Link 6: See and feel cap is on return shampoo to shelf
Link 7: See shampoo on shelf spread shampoo glob across hands
Link 8: See shampoo is spread on hands mix shampoo vigorously into hair
Link 9: Feel suds mixed throughout hair rinse suds from hair
Defining respondent target behaviors
Defining respondent target behaviors: People learn through respondent conditioning to associate two
previously unrelated events (a neutral stimulus and a response). The stimulus gains the ability to elicit a
conditioned response (CR) by being repeatedly paired with an unconditioned stimulus (US) that already
elicits that response. The learning of conditioned responses (CR) is the targets of behavior change
Respondent behaviors: Overt or covert (often it is both; fear physically try to escape, emotionally
Designing a program to change a respondent behavior: Must define the behavior in terms of its internal
or external responses (or both). E.g. reducing an individual's covert signs of fear may not reduce their
overt signs of fear.
Which behavior to address first?
Is the new or change behavior likely to:
Lead to reinforcement in the target person's everyday environment?: Learning a new behavior may
reduce problem behavior that results in reinforcement of the new behavior.
Reduce the occurrence of harm or damage?: Some problem behaviors involve self-harm.
Be a prerequisite for learning a skill that enables the person to function better?: E.g. learning numbers
before doing arithmetic
Affect in positive ways important individuals in the client's life?: A disabled person being able to care
for themselves
Be a behavioral cusp?: A behavior that has benefits beyond its direct effects because it exposes the
person to new and richer environments, learning opportunities and consequences that would not be
available otherwise. E.g. being able to read skill for obtaining more knowledge
Show response generalization?: Altering one behavior leads to similar changes in another unaddressed
response. Usually one that is similar or related to the target behavior. E.g. past tense verbs (generalized
past tense of sit sitted vs sat)
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