PSY 101 ECC Behavior Modification Project Discussion


Behavior Modification Project

Students should apply principles of operant conditioning to modify an existing behavior.  Students should identify a target behavior to be modified, either an undesirable behavior that they would like to eliminate or a desirable behavior that they would like to strengthen.  By taking a close look at many aspects of your own behavior–such as study habits, sporting skills, health habits, or personal-interaction skills–students should have no trouble selecting a behavior they’d like to change.  Examples of potential undesirable behaviors to eliminate include smoking cigarettes, eating fatty foods, watching too much TV, speeding, phobias or anxieties (e.g., fear of flying, test anxiety), and procrastination before exams or papers.  Examples of desirable behaviors to be increased include remembering people’s names, becoming more punctual with respect to class or social events, outlining textbook chapters while reading, using a turn signal while driving, and increasing a skill in sports (e.g., using a left foot in soccer, increasing free-throw percentage in basketball).

For this assignment, students should:

A.    Propose a program for changing a behavior and then later, after implementing the program, report on its results.

B.    After identifying the target behavior, students should monitor their behavior for two weeks and generate a plausible explanation for why the problem exists. 

C.    They should also describe why they want to change the behavior and what benefits change will bring. 

D.    Students should carefully design a program for modifying the behavior.  In the program proposal, students should describe all relevant conditioning principles incorporated within their plan, which might include the use of positive and negative reinforcers, punishment, shaping, schedules of reinforcement, modeling, extinction, stimulus discrimination or generalization, primary and secondary reinforcers, and so on.  (Chapter 7 Operant Conditioning principles must be used for reference in your paper.)

E.    Students must implement their program and type up an honest report of the results.  (You can choose your own format for this project.)

F.    Students should explain what degree or part of the program was successful.  Plausible explanations for success or failure should be highlighted.

G.   If you failed, you should propose an alternative plan that might be more successful in the future.