Three-term Contingency of the Day: Nose Wars
Antecedent: Accidentally get bumped in the nose; tip of nose goes up. Unpleasant/uncomfortable feeling follows.
Behaviour: I press down on my nose.
Consequence: Sense my nose going down; unpleasant feelings goes away (negative reinforcement).
Weird post alert. Or maybe not? Each year I am in this field, I learn a little bit more about people's odd habits and behaviours. These behaviours seem pointless and yet continue on a regular basis. They may not be that elaborate or intrusive and so they continue without much cause for concern. In my example, the feeling of my nose going up is associated with verbal behaviour of others telling me my nose will one day stay "stuck up" like that. Being already self-conscious of my appearance, I figured out that I could avoid that from happening by counteracting against any nudge or rub of the nose with a press down. I have done this behaviour repeatedly because for whatever reason, it takes away that unpleasant feeling; it serves to regulate the 'unbalance' I experience. And, I do this despite rational thought telling me that it is impossible for my nose to remain stuck up like that. I suppose if I were truly bothered by this behaviour, I could employ/recruit a number of behavioural techniques; but, for now my nose will be on the lookout and I'll subtlety adjust my nose hoping you won't notice.
This Behaviourist Believes They Can Change The...
It has been a sombre week for Canadians such as myself holding onto hope that Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and Opposition in the House of Commons of Canada could lead us towards a kinder, more caring and just society. On Monday morning, Canada learned of Jack Layton’s passing from cancer. We had known he was ill, but this was too soon. In the moment I read the news, I felt as if that...
Three-Term Contingency Of The Day: Slurpee
Antecedent: Sitting down with Eric, drinking a Slurpee; reaching the end of my cup
Behaviour: I slurp the last of my Slurpee with a straw making that sound when you reach the end of the cup
Consequence: Eric shots me "the look". I stop slurping (positive punishment).
Today I learned that Eric does not like the sound a straw makes when you're reaching the end of a cup. His look of disapproval was enough to stop me from making that sound. I adjusted my behaviour so that I could still enjoy the last of my Slurpee and not offend Eric. Reprimands and looks of disapproval are one way our society ensures social norms are adhered to in the moment. Assuming social acceptance is desirable, most people will acquiesce and adjust their behaviours accordingly. But, (and it's a big but) under different circumstances that socially unacceptable behaviour is likely to reappear. While I will try not to slurp in the company of Eric, that's not to say I won't do it when he's not around. This is yet another problem with punishment; it may work in the moment, but it does not always result in lasting change. More on that later...
Smile and Smile Back
Yesterday I went for a walk around the neighbourhood near my work. It was a lovely morning and I was in a pretty good mood. As I was walking, I began to smile at the people passing by. Some people smiled back; others did not. I kept this going for some time just to see what people would do. Perhaps people were surprised by my actions - a sure sign we’re not smiling enough at each other....
Three-term Contingency of the Day: Escape From the...
Antecedent: You're in a room full of your family and friends as they accuse you of being an alcoholic (which you deny) and plead with you to go to treatment. There is lots of crying, yelling and bottom-line threats being made. Oh, and all this time, a camera is in your face recording all your troubles.
Behaviour: You say you'll go to treatment.
Consequence: The nagging, yelling and all other chaos that is an intervention stops (negative reinforcement; escape).
I like to watch the show Intervention and analyze the vicious cycle of negative reinforcement on the life of an addict. While I normally think what they're doing is a wonderful thing for addicts who may need that extra push, there are always a few interventions where I'm pretty good at guessing they won't be staying in rehab. In most of those cases, the person agrees to go but only after there's a huge scene. They reluctantly say they'll go because it will make the situation over for them. The nagging, the yelling, the threats and the chase all come to an end as soon as the person agrees to go. While this may get the addict through the front door of rehab, in the absence of the yelling and threats etc., it is probably not enough to keep them there. In order for change to occur the addict has to value what rehab has to offer them; not want to escape the uncomfortable situation of being put on the spot.