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Chapter 1

Behaviour Modification - Chapter one detailed notes

Course Code
Zachariah Campbell

of 4
Chapter 1 – behaviour modification
Defining human behaviour, what is behaviour?
Behaviour is what people do and say. Behaviour describes a persons actions. It is not static if
you say a person is angry you have not defined the behaviour, you have simply labelled it if you
say what that person does or says when angry then you have identified behaviour. Ex. I screamed
at my bother ran upstairs and slammed the door. This description is labeled as anger
What physical dimensions of behaviour can be measured?
Frequency : number of times it has occurred ex, bit fingernails 12 times in class
Duration : time from when behaviour starts and stops ex, jogged for 25 minutes
Intensity : physical force ex, bench pressed 220 pounds
Behaviours can be observed, and described by others or the person doing it therefore it
can be recorded since it is an action.
Physical or social impact on the environment?
Behaviours can have both impacts (Other people and ourselves) since behaviour is an action that
involves movement through time and space. Sometimes the effect is obvious ex, you turn on the
light switch (an effect of the physical environment) ex, you raise your hand in class and prof calls
on you ( and effect on other people) ex, recite phone number out loud so you can remember it
( an effect on yourself),
Behaviour is lawful: its occurrence is systematically influenced by the environmental events.
Once you understand the environmental events that cause behaviours to occur you can change the
events in the environment to alter the behaviour.
Behaviour can be overt: action that can be observed and recorded other then the person
engaging in that behaviour.
Behaviour can be covert: private events cannot be observed ex thought.
Defining behaviour modification, what is behaviour modification?
Field of psychology concerned with analyzing and modifying human behaviour. Analyzing-
identifying relationship btwn environment and behaviour. Modifying- developing procedures to
help change behaviour, involves altering environment.
Characteristics of behaviour modification:
Focus on behaviour, Behaviour modification procedures are designed to change behaviour
not a characteristic or trait, ex not used to change autism (label) but change problem
behaviours that autism children exhibit.
The behaviour to be modified is called target behaviour. Targets of change with
behaviour modification are behavioural excess – person wants to decrease in frequency
duration or intensity. Behavioural deficit – person wants to increase in frequency
duration or intensity
Behaviour modification involves the application of basic principles originally derived
from with lab animals. Scientific study of behaviour is called experimental analysis of
behaviour or behaviour analysis. The scientific study of human behaviour is called the
experimental analysis of human behaviour or applied behaviour analysis.
It has an emphasis on assessing and modifying the current environmental events that are
related functionally to the behaviour.
There is a precise description of behaviour modification procedures
Treatment is implemented by people in everyday life such as parents. Although
procedures are made by trained professionals.
Measuring behaviour before and after intervention to document the behaviour change
resulting from the behaviour modification procedures.
De-emphasis on past events as causes of behaviour, knowledge of current controlling
variables is most important in developing behaviour modification intervention because
thoses variables unlinke past events can be changed. Past events can be useful however ex,
previous learning experiences have been shown to shown to influence current behaviour.
Rejection of hypothetical underlying causes of behaviour
Historical roots: four people who contributed
Ivan P. Pavlov (1849-1936) reflex, which is the salvation in response to food, could be
conditioned to a neutral stimulus. In an experiment, he presented a neutral stimulus,
(sound) when presented food. Later the dog salivated in response to sound alone. This is
called conditioned reflex.
Edward L Thorndike (1874 – 1949) contribution was description of the law of effect. It
states that a behaviour that produces a favorable effect on the environment is more likely
to be repeated in the future. Famous experiment – put a cat in the cage with a lever, when
the cat hit the lever it got food, in the future the cat hit the lever more quickly.
John b Watson (1878 – 1958) started movement of behaviourism. Watson asserted that
observable behaviour was the proper subject matter of psychology and that all behaviour
was controlled by environmental events.
B.F Skinner (1904 – 1990) expanded field of behaviourism, described difference btwn
respondent conditioning (reflexes described by Pavlov and Watson) and operant
conditioning (Thorndikes, law of effect). His research elaborated basic principles of
operant behaviour his work is the foundation of behaviour modification.
Areas of Application:
Developmental disabilities: problems such as self-injuries, aggressive behaviours and
destructive behaviours. These behaviours can be controlled or eliminated with behaviour
Mental Illness: patients with chronic mental illness to modify behaviours such as daily
living skills, social behaviour, aggressive behaviour, psychotic behaviour etc. One imp
contribution of behaviour mod was the development of token economy (motivation).
Education and Special Education: Researchers analyzed student teacher interactions,
improved teaching methods and developed procedures to reduce problem behaviours.
Rehabilitation: this is the process of helping people regain function after a injury.
Behaviour modification is used in rehabilitation to promote compliance with routines
such as physical therapy, teach new skills, decrease problem behaviours, help manage
chronic pain, also improve memory performance.
Community Psychology: behavioural intervention designed to influence the behaviour of
large numbers of people in ways that benefit everybody ex, reduce unsafe driving, reduce
littering etc.
Clinical Psychology: psychological principles and procedures are applied to help people
with personal problems. Involves individual or group therapy by a psychologist.