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Chapter 1


Course Code
Zachariah Campbell

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Chapter 1: Behavior Modification Approach
What is Behavior?
- Activity, action, performance, responding, response and reaction; Anything that a person says or does
- Technically it is any muscular, glandular or electrical activity of an organism
-Products of behavior: what you get from performing a behavior (e.g. an A plus in class)
-Overt behavior: visible behavior that can be observed and recorded by an individual other than the
one performing the behavior
-Covert: private, internal activities that cannot be readily observed by others; activities that occur “within
one’s skin” and that therefore require special instruments for others to observe—thinking and feelings are
private behavior
- Sometimes we think in words is called private self-talk
- Imagining and private self-talk are sometimes also called cognitive behaviors (techniques to deal
with these are called cognitive behavior modification)
- Characteristics of behavior that can be measured are called dimensions of behavior
- The duration of behavior is the length of time that it lasts
-Frequency of behavior is the number of instances that occur in a given period of time
-Intensity or force of behavior refers to the physical effort or energy involved in emitting the behavior
(e.g. Mary had a strong grip when shaking hands)
- Behavior modifiers talk more precisely about behavior instead of using summary labels
- A summary label such as intelligence should be used in an adjective or adverb form to describe how
people behave under certain conditions not as a noun for some “thing”-- Depending on who uses the
word, it can mean anything, but whatever it means, it refers to ways of behaving
-Creativity also refers to the kinds of behavior in which a person is likely to engage under certain
circumstances; creative individual frequently emits behaviors that are novel or unusual and that at the
same time have desirable effects
- Psychological terms such as developmental disabilities (age), learning disabilities (behavior observed:
short attention span, preservation, hyperactivity, speech disability, reading disability/ dyslexia), autism
(impaired communication, impaired social behavior, self-stimulatory behavior) etc are some labels for
certain ways of behaving. They do not refer to invisible mental abnormalities
- Summary labels used to refer to psychological problems: attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, anxiety,
depression, low self-esteem, road rage, interpersonal difficulties and sexual dysfunction
- Why are summary labels used?
oUseful for quickly providing general information about how a labeled individual might perform
oLabels may imply that a particular treatment program will be helpful
- Disadvantages of summary label?
oLead to pseudo-explanations (aka: circular explanation) of behavior (pseudo means false)
oLabels can negatively affect the way an individual might be treated
oDirect focus to an individual’s problem behaviors rather than to his or her strengths
- Behavioral deficits: too little behavior of a particular type
- Behavioral excess: too much of a particular type
oUsing these types of problems to describe behavior we avoid using general summary labels and
regardless of labels attached to an individual, it is behavior that causes concern—and behavior that
much be treated to alleviate the problem
oSpecific procedures are now available that can be used in school, in the workplace and in home settings
to establish a desired behavior—techniques are referred to collectively as behavior modification
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