Chapter 8: Antecedents: Stimulus Control
Antecedents: cues that precede and set the occasion for a behaviour (cause us to do, think, and
o Cues tell us what to respond by linking cues to behaviour and its consequence.
Behaviour happens in a context which includes objects, peoples, and internal events ex. hunger.
Anything in the context that arouses behaviour is a stimulus.
Example of antecedent influencing behaviour: a teacher asking a question sets the occasion for
students to raise their hands.
o Antecedents involve any of our senses
o Effects of antecedents may vary between people. Ex. not all students will raise their
Types of Antecedents:
Overt and Covert Antecedents
o Overt: open or directly observable through senses ex. seeing your dog
o Covert: internal and not open to observation ex. feeling tired
Ex. buying things compulsively is a negative reinforcement; it gets rid of
negative emotions of anger or depression.
Immediate and Distant Antecedents
o Immediate antecedents: are present shortly before the behaviour occurs.
Ex. putting out food in buffet style for elderly to increase their communication
with each other.
o Distant antecedents: precede behaviour by several minutes, hours, or much longer
amounts of time.
They affect behaviour for a long time after occurrence due to strong emotional
.and covert components.
Ex. a woman who is physically abused may go on for years with emotions and
thoughts about these events.
It is easier to identify antecedents that are overt and immediate rather than covert
Motivational function: relates thirst to water (behaviour to a consequence)
Discrimination function: seeing a water fountain (discriminating it from many other objects)
Discriminative stimulus (Sᶛ): ex. reading a note and pressing the correct key on the piano. The note was
a stimulus. Ex. restroom picture displaying both genders can use the restroom.
Behaviour continues to occur if it was reinforced in the past or it occurs less frequently if it was
discriminate and motivational: o both occur before target behaviour and increase the likelihood that the behaviour will
Behaviour analysts may try to increase motivation by applying establishing operations.
Establishing operations: increases effectiveness of consequence on performance of target
behaviour which enhances motivational functions of antecedent conditions.
o Common establishing operation in intervention is deprivation: presenting discriminative
stimuli when the person has been without reinforce for suitable amount of time.
Ex. getting lunch after lunch time
Behaviour increases with deprivation and decreases with satiation
Discrimination training: a consequence is administered for a particular behaviour when a
specific stimulus is present but not when another stimulus is present.
o Ex. a teacher wearing different lei red and green to differentiate when she would
answers questions or not.
Discriminating is rewarding when referring to a specific stimulus, but not when referring to
others. Ex. calling mom “mommy” it is not reinforcing when used for aunts or teachers.
o This involves antecedents of two types:
A discriminative stimulus (Sᶛ): teaches that an antecedent leads to a particular
S-delta (S∆): a stimulus is associated with not being reinforced for making a
given response. Thus, S-delta is a cue to not perform that particular behaviour.
Ex. of Sᶛ and S∆
o Sᶛ would lend you money, like family or friends. They know you
have paid back in the past.
o S∆ would not lend you mone