25 Jan, 2013
Unconditioned stimulus (US) /food/ doing yoga/ crystal meth -> unconditioned Response (UR)/
salivation/ relaxation/ respiratory + cardiac changes
Neutral Stimulus (NS)/bell/ yoga studio/ dealer’s house + US/ food/ doing yoga/ crystal meth -> UR/
salivation/ cardiac changes
Conditioned stimulus (CS)/bell/ yoga studio/ dealer’s house -> conditioned response (CR)/ salivation/
relaxation/ cardiac changes
Discrimination + generalization
Important factors in RC:
Timing during US + NS pairing
Conditioned emotional response is an emotion response. There are direct acquisitions and indirect
1. US -> UR
2. NS + US -> UR
3. CS -> CR
Some of the most efficacious therapeutic techniques for the reduction of anxiety disorders. Frequently
used self-help stress reduction techniques.
Relaxation (low psychological and psychological arousal)
Progressive muscle relaxation
Competing responses Chapter notes continued:
The multiple baseline across design uses separate AB designs for each of two or more different
situations typically for a single individual and a specific behaviour. In this design, the participant
receives a baseline phase and an intervention phase in each of two or more situations (For
example, in different places or with different people present). As with the other multiple
baseline designs, the baselines in all situations begin at much the same time. Once the baseline
data are stable, the intervention is applied in only one of them. When the change is clear in that
situation, the intervention is applied in the next situation and so on. Assuming that the
behaviour only changes at any given time in the situation with the newly presented
intervention, we can conclude that applying the techniques caused the change. A study used a
multiple baseline across situations design to test the effects of an intervention of brief –mild
punishment procedures on a young man’s stuttering.
We hinted earlier at a potential problem in using multiple baseline designs: the target behaviour
may begin to change during a baseline phase before the intervention has been introduced.
Similar problems can arise in other multiple baseline designs. In the multiple baseline across
subjects design, changes in the target behaviour for the person receiving the intervention may
lead to changes in the behaviour of other individuals who are still in baseline. And in the
multiple baseline across situations design, changes in the target person’s behaviour in the
situation where the intervention was introduced may lead to changes when the person is in
other situations still lacking the intervention. These problems are probably not very common;
but if they can be expected, other research designs should be used.
Other single subject research designs that can determine whether an intervention caused
changes in behaviour divide the intervention phased into subphases in which performance
criteria are changed or different treatments are alternated.
A useful approach for demonstrating that intervention techniques caused changes in a
behaviour is called the changing criterion design. As the name implies, the criterion for
successful performance changes over time, usually becoming more rigorous. For instance, when
we start the intervention, we may require a fairly lax level of performance for receiving a
reward. After the behaviour has stabilized at that level, we may raise the criterion to a higher
level and when the behaviour stabilizes again, we may raise the criterion again. Is the behaviour
increases or decreases in accordance with each change in the criterion, we can conclude that
the reward is responsible for the behaviour changes. An example of a changing criterion design
comes from a study of the effects of a token reinforcement system on exercising among 11 yr
old obese and nonobese boys.
Alternating treatment designs (also called simultaneous treatment or multi element designs)
examine the effects of two or more treatments each of which is conducted within the same
intervention phase with the same person. Although both treatments are applied in the same
phase, they are separated in time and alternated. Thus, each treatment might be applied on
different days or at different times during the day throughout the intervention phase. By
examining graphs of the data, we can determine if one treatment is consistently more effective
than another in changing the person’s target behaviour. An example of an alternating treatment design examined the tutoring behaviours of school children after they were trained in two
tutoring procedures to help classmates in spelling. The standard tutoring procedure involved
having the tutor give the student reinforcers for correct spellings and provide corrective
feedback when a word was misspelled. The modified tutoring procedure had the tutor use
praise and other reinforcers for correct spelling and give corrective feedback as soon as a
student gave an incorrect letter in a word.
Professionals commonly evaluate three practical dimensions that relate to the behavioural changes the
intervention produced the changed behaviour’s generalization and durability, the behaviour’s amount
and importance to the person’s everyday life and functioning and the intervention’s costs versus
Generalization and durability of the changes:
For a behaviour change intervention to be viewed as effective and useful, the improved behaviour must
generalize to the target person’s natural environment and must be durable. Thus, people who have
learned how to avoid antecedents that lead to an unwanted behaviour such as smoking or drinking must
continue to use these skills in their usual environment.
The amount of change an intervention produces in the target person’s problem behaviour and
the importance to the changes to the person’s everyday life and functioning are critical
dimensions in evaluating a program’s effectiveness. The concept of clinical significance refers to
the degree to which the change in behaviour is meaningful to the target person’s life and
functioning.; meaningful change is usually defined as large and bringing the behaviour into the
The second outcome of behaviour change that indicates the amount or importance of the
change is its social validity, the utility and adaptiveness of the change for the target person’s
Cost-benefit ratio or the extent to which the costs of providing the treatment are outweighed by
the money saved in the long run.
After an intervention has been completed, the professionals who supervised the project usually write a
report to describe the target behaviours, intervention techniques and outcomes of the program. Often,
these reports are published in professional journals; in other cases, they are kept on file in counseling
offices or institutions.
A functional assessment is a set of procedures by which we can identify connections between a
behaviour and its antecedents and consequences. Some functional assessments are highly
rigorous, detailed and complete in the way they are carried out as they are in carefully conducted research. Although the antecedents and consequences in functional assessment are
usually overt, they can be covert too. Keep in mind that an antecedent is not necessarily a
discreet event such as someone calling your name; it can be a situation such as the time and
place or another person who is present when the target behaviour does or does not occur.
A main purpose of conducting a functional assessment is to identify the consequences of the target
Escape is a form of negative reinforcement: We may learn much behaviour because they end or
postpone aversive circumstances. Escape gets us out of something we don’t want. We all learn
much everyday behaviour that function to get us out of disliked situations. If you dislike a song
you hear on the radio or show you see on TV, you change the channel the station or channel.
When roommates or neighbours are making too much noise, you ask them to tone it down.
Attention as reinforcement/ getting attention from other people is often an effective positive
reinforcer. The type of attention we get that serves as a reinforcer is usually intended to
compliment us or make us feel better. The attention can include a look that says, “wow, you
look great,” for example; or a statement of praise for work we’ve done; or just a hug to soothe
us when we look distressed.
In automatic reinforcement, the behaviour produces a reinforcer directly, such as when we massage an
aching muscle to make it feel better. Automatic reinforcement can be positive or negative types:
In automatic positive reinforcement, the behaviour directly leads to a reinforcing stimulus being
introduced or added. For instance, if you sketch a picture and like what it looks like, you’ve
received automatic positive reinforcement for your sketching.
In automatic negative reinforcement, the behaviour directly leads to the reduction or removal
of an aversive situation. Massaging a sore muscle or taking aspirin to relieve a headache are
In each of these situations, the reinforcement is nor provided by someone else. In fact, to conclude that
reinforcement is automatic, we typically need to rule out all other sources of reinforcement, especially
social sources. For instance, if the behaviour persists even the person is alone, we have evidence that
the reinforcement is automatic.
If receiving a tangible item for performing behaviour strengthens that behaviour, that item is a tangible
reinforcer. Many of our behaviours result in access to tangible reinforcers. For example, we learned in
childhood how to shop for clothing; and for the clothing we now have, we learned how to find a
particular item in a dresser or closet so we can wear it. Sometimes problem behaviours produce
tangible reinforcers. For instance, a child may have a tantrum behaviour he or she wants a toy and cant
find or reach it.
A target behaviour can be one of two types: 1) Behavioural excess – undesirable behaviour the person performs too frequently, too stronyly or
for too long (examples include someone having tantrums or smoking cigarettes)
2) Behavioural deficit – desirable behaviour the person does not perform often enough, long
enough, well enough or strongly enough (examples include someone not talking loudly or not
The approaches for identifying antecedents and consequences are as follows:
indirect methods which use questionnaires and interviews and interviews
direct methods in which instances of the behaviour are carefully observed in their natural settings
experimental methods/ functional analysis in which behaviour analysts manipulate antecedents and
consequences to see their effects on the behaviour.
Indirect methods (interviews and questionnaires):
Notice that the questions ask about conditions related to the person’s performance and non
performance of the target behaviour which means that they can asses antecedents and consequences
for behavioural excesses and deficits.
Direct methods (observation of the behaviour):
When using direct methods of functional assessment, someone has the job of watching for and
describing the actual target behaviour and its antecedent and consequences in its natural environment.
1) Unstructured descriptive assessment, in which observations are done without altering natural
events in the environment in any way.
2) Structured descriptive assessment which involves observations in the natural environment while
specific antecedent events are manipulated systematically but the behaviours consequences are
allowed to happen as usual and are not altered.
A-B-C Log – a chronological record of the target behaviour’s occurrences and nonoccurrences
along of the antecedents and consequences of each instances. This form has been filled out for
a boy’s tantrum behaviours. When we conduct a descriptive assessment, we use an A-B-C Log to
record data regarding the target behaviour. For each instance of the behaviour’s occurrence and
nonoccurrences we record its day, date, time and place. The place would be specified as
precisely as necessary (for example, if the behaviour tends to occur in certain rooms in the
house such as bedroom or kitchen, we would use special codes for those places)
The patterns we see between the target behaviour and its antecedents and consequences in the
summary record data should give us information about two important relationships. First, they
should enable us to predict when the target behaviour is likely to occur or not occur, that is, the
days and times, the places, and the immediate and distant conditions that are associated with the likelihood that the behaviour will or will not happen. Second, we should be able to see how
different consequences relate to the behaviour. From these relationship, we should understand
why the behaviour does or does not occur.
A functional analysis uses methods of scientific experiments by conducting systematic environmental
manipulations, i.e, introducing or altering likely antecedents or consequences to see how they affect the
To manipulate antecedents, we could make certain requests of the person, place the individual in
particular settings or give him or her access to certain objects or activities (for example, to manipulate
consequences, we could vary whether positive or negative reinforcement occurs for the target
behaviour. For instance, 2 common reinforcers that behaviour analysts test with behavioural excesses
such as tantrums are:
1) Attention as a positive reinforcer for the problem behaviour is manipulated such as by
withholding all forms of attention including soothing and reprimands whenever the behaviour
2) Escape as a negative reinforcer for the problem behaviour is manipulated such as by not
allowing a break from an activity whenever the behaviour occurs.
There are two reasons for doing a functional analysis:
to confirm the data and hypotheses from a descriptive assessment and to clarify patterns of
relationships that are not yet clear. Because functional analyses manipulate the behaviour’s antecedents
and consequences, these events are not exactly the same as those that happen naturally. For this
reason, these observations are called analog assessments. Functional analyses appear to produce more
accurate outcomes than descriptive assessments.
The factors behaviour analysts manipulate in functional analyses and the structure of the research can
vary. In the case study of Jim’s body rocking, the target behaviour’s likely antecedents were manipulated
but not its consequences and these manipulations were alternated across phases. Manipulating only the
antecedents seems to be less successful in identifying reinforcers that maintain the behaviour than
procedures that manipulate both events. Instead of alternating manipulations across phases, we can
alternate them within the same phase as an alternating treatment design. Researchers used to
alternating treatment approach in a functional analysis of self-injurious behaviour in nine individuals
with mental retardation and showed that self-injury was controlled by different factors in different
If we use direct methods and perform an unstructured descriptive assessment, we would examine the
completed summary record form to see which antecedents and consequences are most strongly
associated with the target behaviour’s occurrence or non-occurrence. Because summary records
combine and organize the data, they are more likely than A-B-C Logs to reveal patterns like these as
clearly. Carefully done, unstructured descriptive assessments proved a moderately rigorous analysis of a
target behaviour functions and are very useful in designing a pr