- Antecedent: Phone rings; a certain phone number on display
- Behaviour: Ignore that phone call; walk away from the phone
- Consequence: Avoid awkward or unpleasant conversation (negative reinforcement)
- We all do it. The invention of call display provides us with a behaviour technology to screen our phone calls. The phone number on display acts as a discriminative stimulus that signals either (1) reinforcement is available if I pick up; or (2) punishment or an otherwise unpleasant event is available if I pick up. If it's the latter, then behaviours that avoid the onset of the unpleasant call are reinforced (e.g., turning the phone off, walking away from it). Our prior experience (i.e., learning history) with said callers is how the phone numbers acquire their discriminating properties.
- Thankfully there is little effort required in screening a phone call. Until of course, your mother thinks you're ignoring her and she calls again and again.
This is great! I would totally appreciate you pointing out any misunderstanding I may be conveying if you spot something, though! Just saying…
I have approached discussions about behaviourism with caution; unsure if the conversation can remain objective and civil. Will my efforts be punished or reinforced? I survey people’s posts and watch for conversation skills that will signal either way. Respectful and informed (or at least open to being informed) debate is key.
You @cognitivedefusion are definitely a signal of reinforcement (SD) for discussing behaviourism that I have no hesitation clarifying or debating the relevance of a behaviour analytic technology with you! If anything I should be asking you more questions about 3rd wave behaviourism.
With a new theme and layout to my blog I can now highlight custom tags. I am highlighting a new tag - Behaviourism 202 - to the mix of my regular posts and tags. I often see incorrect or misapplied information regarding the principles and theories related to behaviourism here on Tumblr and elsewhere on social media. I could respond to them all and point out the inaccuracies but a) I’d be repeating myself A LOT; and b) my voice on the matter is not necessarily what they want when discussing behaviourism. Not everyone likes us. I am okay with that.
Since so much of this (mis)information gets labelled as or learned from Psychology 101, an irritation I have is that behaviourism and related concepts is not so simplistic (despite how your psych professor may have glanced over those concepts while chirping some “Behaviourism is no longer relevant” nonsense). An understanding of behaviourism requires far more greater examples than candy as a reward and “no more TV” as punishment. I am hoping this new tag will be a way to collate posts for people up for a more in-depth understanding of behaviourism, including discussions on radical behaviourism and behaviour analysis. It is where I will counter the misinformation and extend the concepts beyond experiences with “stickers” and “timeouts”.
Now I need to go through some old posts and re-tag them. Here’s a common theme among my discussions with others to hold you until then: It’s Not About Rewards
I got an anonymous ask in my mailbox with a few different questions. I am going to break them down into their own separate Q & A and answer them throughout the week. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, continue to send those asks my way. I can take a few days to answer as I go digging into some of my resources. Responding to your asks help me study as well as to practice my verbal behaviour when it comes to disseminating behaviour analysis to potential consumers.
- Antecedent: Husband is asking what we should have for dinner out of two options. We are discussing two equally pleasing options.
- Behaviour: I decide on one (sushi) and announce said decision.
- Consequence: Husband acknowledges. We order sushi. No more questioning about what to have for dinner.
- Sometimes making a decision is actually "escape from indecision" (Skinner, 1953, p. 211). Not wanting the discussion to go on for much longer I just picked an option. I was hungry. Indecision prolonged our wait for dinner. The made decision, now announced to my husband resulted in no further delay. The back and forth was over.
- A reminder that not all choices made are a true reflection of preference. The analysis behind choice behaviour has to also consider the response effort of either option provided, the current state of deprivation or satiation, whether the person can discriminate between the options, whether the person offering the choice is more or less likely to approve of and/or deliver an option (i.e., be a source of positive reinforcement) and any possible aversive antecedent events which makes choosing something terminate that aversive event (i.e., negative reinforcement).
- All that to consider for one "easy" decision.
B.F. Skinner (from Science and Human Behavior)
When we shame people into being “stronger” or to demonstrate some control we are making an assumption that to do so is within the person; like a switch we can turn on and off. So much of our “self-control” that we pride ourselves on is actually attributed to stimulus control in our environment. Therefore, when a person fails to demonstrate “self-control” it is their environment that is lacking that control and not the person. This means there is behavioral technology that can be used to change it.