Thursday 16 August 2012


Behavior modification is the use of empirically demonstrated behavior change techniques to increase or decrease the frequency of behaviors, such as altering an individual's behaviors and reactions to stimuli through positive and negative reinforcement of adaptive behavior and/or the reduction of behavior through its extinction, punishment and/or satiation.
Behavior modification is a learning technique that has the goal of replacing one negative behavior with a positive one or eliminating a negative behavior all together. Techniques include negative reinforcement where a punishment or negative action is delivered every time an undesirable behavior is performed.
The first use of the term behavior modification appears to have been by Edward Thorndike in 1911. His article Provisional Laws of Acquired Behavior or Learning makes frequent use of the term "modifying behavior".[1] Through early research in the 1940s and the 1950s the term was used by Joseph Wolpe's research group.[2] The experimental tradition in clinical psychology[3] used it to refer to psychotherapeutic techniques derived from empirical research. It has since come to refer mainly to techniques for increasing adaptive behavior through reinforcement and decreasing maladaptive behavior through extinction or punishment (with emphasis on the former). Two related terms are behavior therapy and applied behavior analysis. Emphasizing the empirical roots of behavior modification, some authors[4] consider it to be broader in scope and to subsume the other two categories of behavior change methods. Since techniques derived from behavioral psychology tend to be the most effective in altering behavior, most practitioners consider behavior modification along with behavior therapy and applied behavior analysis to be founded in behaviorism. While behavior modification encompasses applied behavior analysis and typically uses interventions based on the same behavioral principles, many behavior modifiers who are not applied behavior analysts tend to use packages of interventions and do not conduct functional assessments before intervening.

Martin and Pear indicate that there are seven characteristics to behavior modification,[4] They are:
  • There is a strong emphasis on defining problems in terms of behavior that can be measured in some way.
  • The treatment techniques are ways of altering an individual's current environment to help that individual function more fully.
  • The methods and rationales can be described precisely.
  • The techniques are often applied in everyday life.
  • The techniques are based largely on principles of learning
    operant conditioning and respondent conditioning
  • There is a strong emphasis on scientific demonstration that a particular technique was responsible for a particular behavior change.
  • There is a strong emphasis on accountability for everyone involved in a behavior modification program.

Many of the problems prevalent in our schools today, from classroom disruptions to bullying, aggression and violence, can be due to a number of hidden disorders, which seem to be becoming more common among our children.  These disorders include ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and anxiety disorders.  Left undiagnosed and untreated, children with these disorders can present a real danger to themselves and their classmates.  For this reason many schools are turning to student behavior modification to combat the effects of these disorders.

The principles behind student behavior modification are very simple.  Firstly a problem behavior is recognized and targeted.  Then the key motivator for that student needs to be identified.  This is then used as an incentive to reward positive behavior when it replaces the problem behavior identified.  The child can see the immediate consequences of their behavior and are then able to adjust it to achieve the reward.  Student behavior modification works well on children and teens, especially those under sixteen as their brains are not fully developed and they are not set in their ways as an adult would be.  It is crucial to begin student behavior modification as soon as the child starts to display the symptoms of a disorder to achieve the best possible results. 

Schools see that student behavior modification is a positive way to combat disorders common in our classrooms by equipping the children with the necessary tools and motivation to change their behavior.  It is a drug free therapy that enables children with disorders to interact with their peers in the classroom in an environment that is safer for all and more conducive to learning. Click on the following link to get a further understanding of why schools have found behavior modification to be the most effective way of controlling student behavior.

Students who engage in challenging behaviour compromise the fundamental ability of schools to educate children. Consequently, teachers face the daunting task of designing effective strategies to promote positive educational outcomes for their students. Since the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act amendments, the use of positive behaviour supports (PBS) to address the behavioural needs of children challenged by disabilities has expanded. There is evidence to support the utility of PBS in reducing challenging behaviour among students. However, successful schools are also gauged by the academic achievement of their students. Hence, it is important to examine the extent to which behavioural outcomes are related to academic outcomes.
Behavior modification assumes that observable and measurable behaviors are good targets for change. All behavior follows a set of consistent rules. Methods can be developed for defining, observing, and measuring behaviors, as well as designing effective interventions. Behavior modification techniques never fail. Rather, they are either applied inefficiently or inconsistently, which leads to less than desired change. All behavior is maintained, changed, or shaped by the consequences of that behavior. Although there are certain limits, such as temperamental or emotional influences related to ADHD or depression, all children function more effectively under the right set of consequences. Reinforcers are consequences that strengthen behavior. Punishments are consequences that weaken behavior. Students' behaviors are managed and changed by the consequences of classroom behavior. To manage behavior through consequences, use this multi-step process:
  1. The problem must be defined, usually by count or description.
  2. Design a way to change the behavior.
  3. Identify an effective reinforcer.
  4. Apply the reinforcer consistently to shape or change behavior.
Consequences of behavior are directly related to the events that either come immediately before or after them. Table 4.2 provides examples of behavioral outcomes as they relate to various events.

Evidence of effectiveness
A child's age should be considered when choosing an appropriate behavior modification technique. A 2008 study using MRI brain imagery found evidence that the brains of children aged 8-9 respond differently to positive(reward) and negative(punishment)feedback compared to the brains of children aged 12 and above. The use of positive feedback elicited a strong response in the younger children, while negative feedback had very little effect. In contrast, the brains of the older children reacted to the stimuli similarly to adult brains. Based on their evidence, the researchers suggested that the brains of older children and adults can process and learn from negative feedback more effectively than younger children.

·  Thorndike, E.L. (1911), "Provisional Laws of Acquired Behavior or Learning", Animal Intelligence (New York: The McMillian Company) 
·  ^ Wolpe (1958) Pyschotheraphy by Reciprocal Inhibition
·  ^ In A.J. Bachrach (Ed.), Experimental foundations of clinical psychology (pp. 3–25). New York: Basic Books
·  ^ a b c Martin, G.; Pear, J. (2007). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (Eighth Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0131942271
·  ^ a b McIntosh, K.; Av-Gay, H. (2007): Implications of Current Research on the Use of Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Support Planning in School Systems. IJBCT, 3(1), pp. 38–49 BAO
·  ^ a b Waguespack, A.; Vaccaro, T.; Continere, L. (2006). Functional Behavioral Assessment and Intervention with Emotional/Behaviorally Disordered Students: In Pursuit of State of the Art. IJBCT, 2(4), pp. 463–80 BAO
·  ^ Roberts, M. (2001). Research in Practice: Practical Approaches to Conducting Functional Analyses that all Educators Can Use. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3(1), pp. 83–97 [1]
·  ^ Walker, H. (1990). Acting Out Child. Soporis West
·  ^ O'Donohue, W.; Ferguson, K.E. (2006). Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology and Behavior Analysis. The Behavior Analyst Today, 7(3), pp. 335–52 [2]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing such great information about behavior modification Fantastic and useful blog thanks for publishing this .the alteration of behavioral patterns through the use of such learning techniques