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Chapter 13

Chapter 13- detailed ntoes

Course Code
Zachariah Campbell

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Chapter 13: Understanding Problem Behaviours through Functional Assessment
When using behaviour modification, the first step is to understand why person
engage in that behaviour conduct assessment of the three-term contingency to
determine the antecedent and consequences that maintain it
oIdentifying these variables before treating the problem behaviour
Functional Assessment
Examples of Functional Assessment
Jacob problem behaviours (e.g. Head banging) in day care conducted functional
assessment through interviewing his mom and direct observation in his natural
setting concluded that he showed his behaviour when other kids took his toys by
doing experiment
oA: Kids taking his toys B: Banging his head, whining etc. C: Got his toy
back (reinforcing)
oTreatment : A: kids take his toys B: Ask it back C: Got his toy back
A: kids take his toys B: bang head etc C: dont get his toys back
Anna problem behaviours conducted Functional Assessment through
interviewing her mom & Direct observation concluded that moms attention was
the reinforcing consequences through experiment
oA: Moms not paying attention B: she kicks, scream etc. C: Moms pays
oTreatment (similar to Jacob): A: mom not paying attention B: Ask for her
mothers attention C: mothers pay attention (similar to Jacob in
extinction too)
Defining Functional Assessment
Behaviour is lawful (is f(x) of environmental variables) Respondent behaviour
controlled by Antecedent Stimuli ; Operant behaviour controlled by Antecedent &
Consequences (ABC of reinforcing & punishment
Thus, Functional Assessment is the process of gathering info about the antecedents
& consequences that are functionally related to the occurrences of a problem
Functions of Problem Behaviour
Also provides info about Antecedent stimulus including time, place, people present ,
and nay environmental event immediately preceding the behaviour
Also provided other info - existence of alternative behaviour that may be
functionally equivalent to TB, motivation variables (establishing operations) ,
reinforcing stimuli for that person, History of previous treatment

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Primary purpose of functional assessment is to identify the function of the problem
behaviour 4 broad class or reinforcing consequences:
Social Positive Reinforcement
When positively reinforcing consequence is delivered by another person it may
involve attention , access to actives or tangibles provided by another person E.g.
Anna: Attention from mother & Jacob: toys back from other kids
Social Negative Reinforcement
When another person terminates an aversive interaction, task , or activity after the
occurrence of target behaviour E.g. child complain when ask to do chores gets
out of doing it because of the complaining
Automatic Positive Reinforcement
When a behaviour produces a reinforcing consequences automatically E.g. going
to get drink from kitchen get reinforced by getting the drink
Automatic Negative Reinforcement
When target behaviour automatically reduce or eliminates an aversive stimulus as a
consequences E.g. Closing the window to block a cold draft (aversive stimulus)
Functional Assessment Methods
Various methods fall into 3 categories: Indirect Assessment methods, Direct
Observation methods, Experimental Methods
Indirect Method (aka Informant Method)
Behavioural interviews, questionnaires are used to gather info from person in
question or from others who know the person well (e.g. parent, teachers etc.)
Advantage: Easy to conduct , dont take much time, lot of interview & questionnaire
formats available to use thus, used most commonly by psychologist
Disadvantage: reliance on memories info may be influenced by forgettance &
biases thus, suggest using multiple functional assessments methods to generate
Good interview is structured to get info from informant that is clear & objective -
info should describe environmental events (including others behaviour) w/out
inference/ interpretation e.g. Answers: Johnny has tantrum when I tell him to
turn off TV vs. Johnny has tantrum when he doesnt get to do what he wants
(interpretation by parent)
Effective interview gives functional assessment: behaviour & events must be
identified & Specified, inference minimized, focus on antecedents & consequences in
understand & changing behaviour goal is to generate hypothesis about the
controlling variables for the problem behaviour
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