PSYB45: Behaviour Modiﬁcation
What is Applied Behaviour Analysis?
Prologue Joel conducted an experiment on Karen where she was asked to sit down and faced away from Joel.
Karen was then asked to recite all words that popped into her head. Every time Karen said a plural noun such as
books or chairs, Joel made a reassuring sound “mmm-hmm”. This prompted Karen to recite plural nouns more often
as long as Joel kept saying, “mmm-hmm”. Was Joel’s “mmm-hmm” linked to Karens increased usage of proper
What Does Behaviour Mean?
The term behaviour refers to anything a person does, typically because of internal or external events. Answering a
question is a verbal response to an external event: a verbal question. Eating when you are hungry is a response to
an internal event: feeling hungry.
EXTERNAL & INTERNAL BEHAVIOURS
• Overt Behaviours are external behaviours that is open to view or observation.
• Verbal Behaviours are actions that involve the use of language. e.g. answering a question
• Motor Behaviours are actions that involve body movement, without requiring the use of language. e.g.
getting dressed, walking, jumping
Some activities, require both verbal and motor components. e.g. ﬁlling out a crossword puzzle
• Covert Behaviours are internal behaviours / private events that are not viewable or openly shown.
• e.g. You see a TV commercial of your favourite sports team. You think about a game you went too, this is
a response but it is not measurable. Feeling happy / sad can cause physiological changes such as
increased heart rate.
• Since covert behaviours can only be felt internally by an individual it is hard to measure, thus overt
behaviours are what we will study.
WHAT IS NOT BEHAVIOUR?
• We tend to focus on traits or characteristics because it is convenient and passes along a lot of information
• This may be inconsistent, for example describing someone as smart may only apply to math. Their
language skills maybe average. The information is also to vague / general.
• Diagnosis is similar to traits, they are to general. Describing a child as autistic does not help the therapist
change their behaviour. Which of the many autistic behaviours does the child have and needs to change?
• Outcomes of Behaviours are the results of a series of behaviours. Getting good grades is an outcome,
studying more often, attending all classes are behaviours that change to achieve that outcome.
• Focusing on behaviours rather than their outcome is more successful.
HOW BEHAVIOUR DEVELOPS
Babies come into the world with a limited number of inborn behaviours called reﬂexes.
• They are a form of survival techniques and are inherited
• e.g. rooting reﬂex is moving your head towards the object that touches your cheek and sucking reﬂex is
when the baby sucks on the object in contact with their lips
• All other behaviours are developed through heredity and experiences
• Heredity affects behaviours in two ways:
• Maturation or physical growth. We develop our head and upper body faster than we do our legs and
arms. e.g. 3 year olds can put on a sweater easily, but have trouble tying shoe laces.
• Heredity also inﬂuences the likelihood of acquiring certain behaviours (some more than others). e.g.
alcoholism, stuttering, sever anxieties.
Applied Behavior Analysis: Principles and Procedures for Behavior Modiﬁcation! Pirave Eahalaivan How We Acquire and Change Behaviour
Learning is a durable change in behavioural potential as a result of experience. When we see a change in
someones behaviour we assume they have learnt something. e.g. I learnt to ride a bike last week, or I learnt to like
Indian food when I visited India. It’s hard to deﬁne learning because it is internal, and sometimes people do not
display what they have learnt.
• Respondent Conditioning is a learning process in which a stimulus (the eventual CS) gains the ability to
elicit a response through repeated association with a stimulus (the US) that already produces a response.
• e.g. We salivate when chocolate is placed in our mouth. When we eat chocolate, we usually talk and
think about the word chocolate. We know salivate when we hear or think about the word chocolate.
• Unconditioned Stimulus (US) is an event that elicits a response automatically. e.g. chocolate in mouth
• Unconditioned Response (UR) is an automatic response to the US. e.g. salivating
• Conditioned Stimulus (CS) is an event that elicits a learned response. e.g. hearing or thinking of chocolate
• This stimulus is neutral at ﬁrst and does not elicit a response before it is learnt.
• Conditioned Response (CR) is an automatic response to the UR. Usually the same response as UR.
• Operant Conditioning is the learning process by which behaviours change because of its consequences.
• Our behaviour operates on the environment and this produces consequences.
• e.g. Joel’s study: Karen saying plural nouns produced the consequence of Joel saying, “mmm-hmm” and
as a result her behaviour changed to continue saying plural nouns.
• Consequences of Operant Conditioning
• Reinforcement a consequence following a behaviour that strengthens and causes it to increase.
• These are usually rewards such as money, a praise, or candy.
• e.g. Joel’s study: “mm-hmm” consequence caused an increase in plural nouns.
• Punishment is a consequence following a behaviour that weakens and causes it to decrease.
• These are usually consequences people do not w