Behavior Modifaction

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Research Paper on Behavior Modification

Marcie Phalen

American Institute of Alternative Medicine


Research Paper on Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is a popular approach to behavior change. While research has

shown definite benefits of using behavior modification, there are potential disadvantages and

dangers as well to the use of behavioral techniques. More specifically, behavior modification can

create risk factors and have potential harmful effects on individuals when aversive stimuli such

as punishment and brainwashing are used. Also, there is significant concern about untrained staff

improperly using behavioral techniques, as well as, the lack of governmental regulation in this


Behavior modification programs form the core therapeutic intervention strategy of

many treatment facilities. They are based on the principles of operant conditioning that replaces

undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement encourages certain behaviors through a system of rewards such as praise

and compliments, while in negative reinforcement a response or behavior is strengthened by

stopping, removing, or avoiding a negative outcome or aversive stimulus. Aversive stimuli tend

to involve discomfort, either physical or psychological. More specifically, behavior modification

programs are designed to correct the behavior of individuals who have been displaying

significant behavioral problems. However, who is to say that behavior modification can fix the

issues presented by these people?

While behavior modification is widely seen as an accepted and effective approach to

altering behaviors, the potential for its misuse and abuse arise from a lack of governmental

regulations, along with unqualified individuals attempting to apply the behavior modification...
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