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Chapter 17


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Jessica Dere

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CHAPTER 17 – ANTECEDENT CONTROLS: RULES AND GOALS HELPING SUSAN TO SKATE WELL • Susan was nervous when competing at her provincials. Her negative self-talk was causing her to be more anxious and it may have caused her to perform worse. • Instead, with deep breathing and positive self-talk, Susan was able to perform the usual ANTECEDENT CONTROL • Because our behavior of responding to various antecedent stimuli had been reinforced, those stimuli exert control over our behavior whenever they occur • Treatment packages that focus on the manipulation of antecedent stimuli (antecedents) fall into the categories of rules, goals, modeling, physical guidance, situational inducement, and motivation RULES • Rule: describes a situation in which a behavior will lead to a consequence o It is a statement that a particular behavior will pay off in a particular situation D • A rule can function as a S (a cue that emitting the behavior specified by the rule will lead to the reinforcer identified in the rule, or a cue that not following the rule will lead to a punisher • In other rules consequences are applied • Reinforcers are also implied for rules stating advice • Rules given in the form of threat imply that noncompliance will be punished • Partial rules: rules that do not identify all three aspects of a contingency of reinforcement o Partial rules focus on behavior o They sometimes identify the antecedent (school zone sign) while the behavior (drive slowly) and consequences (avoid hitting a child) are applied o Other times they identify the consequences (98% payout) while the antecedent (at the casino) and behavior (putting money into the slot machines) are implied Contingency –Shaped VS. Rule-Governed Behavior • Contingency shaped behavior: behavior that develops because of its immediate consequences o This behavior involves immediate consequences and is typically strengthened gradually through “trial and error”, or more precisely through immediate reinforcement and on reinforcement o Example: Bobby whispers jokes to his sister at Church while ceremonies were going on, but his sister ignores him and his parents give him a dirty look (S^). In the future Bobby is less likely to repeat the same behavior again. Another time, Bobby whispers jokes to his friends during a meeting and his friends all laugh, strengthening his behavior (S ) • Rule-governed behavior: behavior controlled by the statement of a rule o Involves delayed consequences and frequently leads to immediate behavioral change o Example: Bobby’s coach tells him that if he doesn’t whisper during the meetings, then they will all get an extra 5 minutes of play. Bobby follows the rule and is later reinforced by the extra 5 minutes of play When Rules are Especially Helpful 1. When rapid behavior change is desirable • Correct use of rules can often produce rapid behavior change much more rapidly than shaping, chaining, or trial and error o Example: Susan’s psychologist gave her a rule that enabled her to land her jumps 2. When consequences are delayed • By adding the rule “if you study for an hour every night this week, you can watch the late movie on Friday night”, the parent has increased the chances of delayed reinforcer having an affect on the desired behavior 3. When natural reinforcers are highly intermittent • Imagine a salesperson that makes commission off of sales at the store. Making a sale is immediately reinforced by the fact that it gives the salesperson more money. However on a slow season, employees might lose hope but the manager would encourage them by telling them to repeat a rule “be persistent, the next customer may mean a sale” 4. When behavior will lead to immediate and severe punishment • Copying parts of the textbook without acknowledging the source is plagiarism Why Rules Control Our Behavior • Why do we follow rules that identify very delayed consequences? • 1. Although the reinforcer identified in a rule might be delayed for an individual, other people might provide other immediate consequences or reinforcers if the individuals follows or doesn’t follow the rule • 2. An individual might follow a rule and then immediately make reinforcing statements such as thinking of what to buy with the extra 2 pesos. In contrast, a failure to comply with the rule may lead to immediate self-punishment • 3. Our operant-respondent interactions give us a reinforcement history so that following rules is automatically strengthened and failure to follow rules is automatically punished, example failure to meet deadlines causes anxiety but by finishing work on time you use escape conditioning Effective and Ineffective Rules 1. Specific versus vague descriptions of behavior • A rule that describes behavior specifically is more likely to be followed then a rule that describes behavior vaguely 2. Specific versus vague descriptions of circumstances • A rule that describes specific circumstances in which the behavior should occur is more likely to be followed then a rule that describes circumstances vaguely or not at all o Example: telling your child to say please is less affective then reminding them to say please for when they ask for something 3. Probable versus improbable consequences • Rules are likely to be followed if they identify behavior for which the consequences are highly probable even though they might be delayed • However, for a rule to be effective when it describes improbable or low-frequency consequences, it might need to be supplemented by other behavior management studies, such as modeling, self-monitoring, or behavioral contracting 4. Sizeable consequences versus small but cumulatively significant consequences
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