Working out is something I really enjoy doing, but I almost always find some excuse as to why I cannot exercise more than going to Zumba twice a week. It’s not that I don’t care about losing weight or staying in shape; it’s just that the outcome of working out is too small to control my behavior. The contingency for working out is ineffective. Ineffective contingencies fail to control our behavior because the outcomes are either too small (though of cumulative significance) or too improbable. I have a given level of health, I work out twice a week for 60 minutes, and then I have an infinitesimally greater level of health. Although my level of health increasing is small and cumulative, I know neither my body image nor my weight will change by working out one time.
I know getting my butt to the gym several times per week will reduce my body fat, but there are several competing contingencies that prevent me from doing so. For example, E.R. is one of my favorite T.V. shows that I love to watch if I have some spare time in my day, I would much rather watch Dr. Carter put in a chest tube to save a little girl’s life than sweat through two tank tops at the gym. If I go to the gym I will lose the opportunity to watch E.R.
My performance objective is to workout at least five days a week for at least 40 minutes. The type of exercise does not matter; it can include cardio, aerobics classes, toning exercises, or any combination. I did not specify exact days I had to work out, just that I have to work out five of seven days a week. For my intervention I implemented an avoidance of loss contingency. An avoidance of loss contingency is the response contingent prevention of the removal of a reinforcer resulting in an increased frequency of the response. Each time that I missed any of the five days or working out for 40 minutes I have to pay my classmate and workout buddy Michelle $3. By working out for 40 minutes I would avoid the loss of a...
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