PSYB45: Behaviour Modification Textbook Notes
Chapter 1: Introduction to Behaviour Modification
¾ The characteristics that define behaviour are as follows:
o Behaviour ]Z}o}vÇXµZÀ]}µ]vÀ}oÀ}v}vU]]
described with action verbs. Behaviour is not a static characteristic of the person.
o Behaviours have one or more dimensions that can be measured. You can measure the
frequency of behaviour; that is, you can count the number of times a behaviour occurs.
You can measure a duration of a behaviour, or the time from when an instance of the
behaviour starts until it stops. You can measure the intensity of behaviour, or the
physical force involved in the behaviour.
o Behaviour is observable. People can see the behaviour when it occurs. The person who
sees the behaviour can describe it and record its occurrence.
o Behaviours can have an impact on the environment, including the physical or the social
environment (other people and ourselves). Because behaviour is an action that involved
movement through space and time, the occurrence of behaviour has some effect on the
environment in which it occurs. Some can be obvious t Ex: turning a light switch on and
o Behaviour is lawful; that is, its occurrence is systematically influenced by environmental
events. Basic behavioural principles describe the functional relationship between our
behaviour and environmental events. These principles describe how our behaviour is
influenced by, or occurs as a function of environmental events.
o Behaviour may be overt or covert. Most often, behaviour modification procedures are
used to understand and change overt behaviours. An overt behaviour is an action that
can be observed and recorded by a person other than the one engaging in the
behaviour. However, some behaviours are covert. Covert behaviours, also called private
events cannot be observable to others t Ex: thinking. We focus on overt behaviours.
¾ All five characteristics of behaviour: it is an action, has physical dimensions, is observable by
others, produces and effect on the environment, and is lawful.
¾ Behaviour modification is the field of psychology concerned with analyzing and modifying
o Analyzing means identifying the functional relationship between environmental events
and a particular behaviour to understand the reasons for behaviour or to determine
why a person behaved as he or she did.
o Modifying means developing and implementing procedures to help people change their
behaviours. It involves altering environmental events so as to influence behaviour.
Characteristics of Behaviour Modification
¾ Focus on behaviour. Behaviour modification procedures are designed to change behaviour, not
a personal characteristic or trait. Therefore, behaviour modification de-emphasizes labelling.
¾ Behavioural excesses and deficits are targets for change with behaviour modification
procedures. In behaviour modification, the behaviour to be modified is called the target
behaviour. A behaviour excess is an undesirable target behaviour the person wants to decrease