Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Maintain Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is based on the idea that behaviors will continue it there is proper rewards present and will not continue if rewards are withheld or punishment is given for undesirable behavior. This theory was presented by B. F. Skinner and has influenced many schools and psychologists for years. Anyone trying to quit smoking, continue an exercise regimen, keep to a diet, or even parents raising children can easily implement a behavior modification plan to find success in their endeavors.


1. Choose and clearly define the desired behavior you want to work towards. This can be either a behavior that you want to discontinue, such as smoking, or it can be a desirable behavior you want to continue, like an exercise regimen

2. Do a baseline analysis of the number of occurrences of that defined behavior for a week. At this stage, don't changing anything about that behavior. Just observe the number of occurrences and chart it or write it down.

3. Take the baseline information and look at the events that happen right before to evoke your target behavior. There is something triggering that behavior in the environment, usually a physical or social reinforcer is present to continue that behavior. By understanding the current reinforcers, you can replace those current reinforcers with your new rewards to change your behavior. This may entail changing the environment right before the behavior would normally occur.

4. Look at the consequences of that behavior. Define what the rewards are that follow that behavior. These usually make the target behavior more likely to occur. Ask yourself if that reward is strong enough to maintain that kind of behavior or can you reduce its potency. If you want to change an undesired behavior, take away the rewarding consequence so there is no reason for the behavior to occur.

5. Make a contract with yourself. State what your desired behavior is, what steps you are going to take to get there, define the timeframe to accomplish the goal, and give yourself a relevant reward for the behavior. Small rewards should be given, before or after the behavior, as well as a bigger reward if followed to completion of the overall goal. Anticipate a positive outcome to achieving your goal.

6. Define your new reinforcement for your goal behavior. This will be a reward for the occurrence of the desired behavior or it will be the removal of reward if the problem behavior occurs. This should be something that is strong enough and worth changing your behavior for. The number of rewards or consequences will gradually increase. This will help to make it more realistic and manageable to work with. Trying to set the bar too high at the beginning will set you up for failure and regression.

7. Implement your behavior modification plan and start working towards your goal behavior. Rewards should be given immediately before or after desired behavior and it must be consistent. For undesirable behaviors, the reinforce must not be present or exposure should be minimized.

8. Keep a working record of your progress, monitoring the occurrence of the behavior. This will help to keep track if your reinforcers are working. If change is not happening, you may have to reevaluate the reinforcers for something that will be more effective.

9. Maintain rewards, or removal of reinforcers, continually until extinction happens when you no longer feel the desire to maintain that old behavior and it is generalized into normal, daily behavior. Generalization occurs when a behavior starts to occur naturally and becomes a habit in different situations and environments without certain reinforcers are present. This will ensure that the behavior will last. Extinction happens when the reinforcing behaviors are no longer present, therefore not giving any reason to continue that behavior.

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