This paper aims analyze what behavior modification is and seeks to provide an insight into the process of behavior modification. It revolves around numerous dimensions of this process which are dependant on numerous theories like conditioning and contiguity. It focuses on behavior modification techniques and provides examples for sufficient understanding of the process.
Behavior modification Behavior modification is a term which refers to any process achieved from a certain learning theory which is aimed at changing a person’s behavior or the way he or she interacts with the outside world.
The specific area of behavior modification which is under focus in this paper is the techniques involved in behavior modification. Secondary research is being used for the collection of data and demonstration of examples. Using the behavioral approach The behavioral approach revolves around three different types of behavioral learning theories which are as follows: Contiguity. The theory of contiguity suggests that a specific stimulus followed by a particular response tends to be followed by the same response again on reoccurrence.
It suggests that the stimulus response connections gain full strength on the first interaction of the connection i. e. contiguity. Repetition neither strengthens nor weakens the connection that has already been developed. Guthrie also based his belief on the law of recency which suggested that an organism would respond to a stimulus in the same way as it responded in the most recent encounter with that stimulus. This idea implied that habits once formed were extremely hard to break. However Guthrie suggested that behavior could be broken i. e.
new behavior could be formed on the basis of following techniques: 1. Exhaustion Method: Exhaustion Method/Fatigue Method: suggests one should continue to present the stimulus until an organism is too tired to respond in the habitual way. At this point, either a new response will occur or a new stimulus-response habit will form or the organism will do nothing. 2. Threshold Method: suggests presenting the stimulus so faintly that the organism does not respond to it in the habitual manner. Then gradually increase the intensity of the stimulus so that the organism continues not to respond to it.
3. Incompatible Stimulus Method: Present the stimulus when the habitual response can’t occur and will lead to occurrence of incompatible response. Classical conditioning Pavlov in his experiment presented dogs with food and observed the dogs salivary responses to the ringing of bell immediately before food was presented. Initially the dogs didn’t respond unless they were presented the food, however after a certain time the dogs started salivating at hearing the sound of the bell because they had started associating the sound of bell with food.
There are two major purposes served by classical conditioning: 1,Conditioning automatic responses for example reducing adrenaline levels in humans without the usage of stimuli that would produce such responses. Secondly for creation of stimuli association. There are two different types of stimuli that can be categorized as secondary stimuli or primary stimuli. Stimuli which result in response without any training are called primary response for example pain and food. Stimulus which leads to a response only after training is called secondary stimulus for example the bell in Pavlov’s case.
A trainee has to be taught to like or dislike the secondary stimuli. Application of classical conditioning: Animal trainers use classical conditioning to train animals. Usually dog trainers use a light flicker which flickers at different intervals of time following which the dog is given a treat. Simply flick the light, wait for a moment and then give the dog a treat maybe food. After this has been repeated a few times, one may observe that the animal monitors, stares at the treat or maybe looks at the trainer.
This is an indication towards formation of an association. The flickering light then becomes a signal for an upcoming reinforcement. Operant conditioning Operant conditioning results in the creation of an association amongst a specific behavior and a specific consequence. This refers to response stimulus conditioning because it leads to an association development amongst the behavior and its following consequence. Consequences have to be clearly linked to behavior. A reinforce refers to anything which makes an event occur more frequently than usual.
An organism tends to repeat behavior when the consequences are positive; these are referred to as reinforcers. Similarly an individual tends to reduce a certain kind of behavior if it leads to unfavorable consequences; these are called punishers. As a result of punishment or reinforcement the following scenarios can prevail: • If something good starts and leads to an increase in behavior it is called positive Reinforcement. • When a good thing is taken away the behavior decreases which is called negative Punishment.
• If a bad consequence is presented the behavior will decrease which refers to positive Punishment. • When a bad consequence is reduced the behavior would increase which is known as negative Reinforcement. Behavior modification techniques There are five different categories of activities that revolve around numerous dimensions of behavior modification techniques: Development of a new behavior: For example teaching a child to act in desired ways which he hasn’t exhibited before, successive steps can be rewarded until we have reached or attained the final desired behavior.
For example if a child to be taught a certain alphabetical spelling list we can reward the child with candy or a desired toy every time the child learns a spelling. This will eventually lead the child to learn all the constituent words of the list. This process is called SHAPING. According to continuous reinforcement principle to teach a child a new behavior which he has never exhibited an immediate reward should be presented after each correct performance. For example provide a dog with a cookie every time it responds to a stimulus in a desired behavior.
The negative reinforcement principle suggests that to increase a child’s performance in particularly desired ways, the trainer should reduce undesirable consequences; this can be done by allowing the trainee to avoid the aversive situation by behaving appropriately. The cueing principle suggests that in order to teach a child to remember how to act at specific times the trainer should arrange for the provision of a cue to the correct performance immediately before the action is expected rather than after its incorrect performance.
Strengthen a new behavior: encouraging a child for continuation of performance of a previously established behavior leading to little rewards, gradually requires a longer time period. This refers to decreasing reinforcement principle. According to variable reinforcement principle, for improvement in a child’s performance of a certain tasks the child should be presented with an intermittent reward.
For example if a child acts according to the desired manner when sitting on the dining table, providing the child with candy immediately will lead the child to repeat that behavior in future. Maintain an established behavior: according to the substitution principle for changing reinforcers when previously effective rewards are not modifying behavior any longer, the reinforcer should be presented immediately before or immediately after the time the more effective reward is presented.
Stop an inappropriate behavior: according to the satiation principle to stop a child from acting in a particular way the child must be allowed to continue the undesired act until it becomes boring and the child gets tired of it. For example if you disapprove of a child’s computer usage patterns and you think it’s leading to addiction you should try not saying anything and encourage the child to do what he is indulged into and eventually there will be a time when the child will get sick of it and will stop doing so naturally.
The extinction principle suggests another way to stop inappropriate behavior i. e. to efficiently eradicate a specific behavior one should create such conditions for the child that he/she receives no rewards following the undesired act. For example if you don’t want your child to talk while eating, every time the child indulges in such activity create such a consequence for him which is extremely undesirable, for example scolding the child. This will eventually lead to extinction of that certain behavioral display.
The incompatible alternative principle suggests efficient stopping of a certain behavior in a child can be achieved by rewarding an alternative action, whose simultaneous performance with the undesired act isn’t possible. Modify emotional behavior: the avoidance principle states in order for a child to be taught to avoid a certain type of scenario the child should be simultaneously exhibited to the situation that is undesired or any form of its representation and some aversive condition. Conclusion
Behavior modification is a technique which has been thoroughly and repeatedly analyzed in numerous experiments. These experiments have proved that following a certain series of modification can lead to a change in the behavior of an organism. References: Dimensions of human behavior by Elizabeth Hutchison, sage Pubns ( March 2003 ) Applied behavior analysis by John O Cooper, William L Heward , Edward R Canda. Prentice Hall (December 2006) An introduction to behavioral endocrinology by Randy J. Nelson, Sinauer associates inc ( March 2003 )