Topics: Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Punishment Pages: 3 (955 words) Published: April 21, 2014
Breaking Bad Habits or Starting Good Ones:
Behavior Modification using Operant Conditioning

Deadline: beginning of class on Wednesday, October 23rd

Is there a habit that you would like to break? For example, maybe you think that you drink too much coffee, bite your nails too much, or put things off too often. Or maybe there is a word or phrase that you would like to use less frequently (e.g., “like”, “uhhh” “literally”). Alternatively, is there a behavior that you would like to do more often? For example, maybe you would like to drink more water, floss after every meal, or spend more time on a certain activity (e.g., reading your textbook). For this assignment, you will choose one behavior and apply the principles of Operant Conditioning to affect how often you perform it.

Step 1: Select the behavior. For the target behavior, try to select a habit you really do want to change, but also be realistic about what is feasible in a short time frame. Ideally, the behavior would be something that you do (or could do) several times a day. You need a behavior that occurs (or could occur) frequently so you can record it multiple times over the week.

Step 2: Determine your baseline. If the behavior occurs frequently, first keep a written record of the behavior for two days without beginning any conditioning. If it is easy to remember how frequently the behavior occurred over the previous couple of days, then you can use that record as your baseline. (You will need to turn in a table or graph depicting these data with a separate column or data point for each day.)

Step 3: Formulate your plan for changing the behavior using the principles of Operant Conditioning. (see the Operant Conditioning section in your textbook). To increase the frequency of a wanted behavior, use positive reinforcement.

To decrease or “extinguish” an unwanted behavior, you need to punish the behavior, or remove the reinforcements that enable it (e.g., getting...
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