Behavior Management: Beyond the Basics

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Behavior Management:
Beyond the Basics
Joel Vidovic, M.A., BCBA and
Lorien Quirk, M.Ed., BCBA
Basic Concepts in Applied Behavior
• ABA: A Brief Background
• The ABA Umbrella
• Terminology and Definitions
– Reinforcement Contingencies
– Response Reduction Contingencies
– Extinction
– Function vs. Form
A Brief (but important) Background
• Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science
• Behavior analysis is a scientific approach to understanding behavior
and how it is affected by the environment
• It is behavioral learning theory in action
– “Behavior” refers to all kinds of actions and skills (not just misbehavior)
– “Environment” includes all sorts of physical and social events that might
change or be changed by one's behavior
• The science of behavior analysis focuses on principles (that is,
general laws) about how behavior works, or how learning takes
• ABA is about understanding how people learn and how we can
teach them new skills and engineer the physical and social
environment in such a way that encourages the independent display
of learned behaviors.
ABA has a Solid Research Foundation
• Through decades of research, the field of behavior
analysis has developed many techniques for increasing
useful behaviors (language, functional skills etc.) and
reducing those that may be harmful or that interfere with
• ABA is the use of those techniques and principles to
address socially important problems, and to bring about
meaningful behavior change
• There are many terms you may hear that are
misinterpreted as being different from ABA, but actually
fall under the ABA umbrella.
Key Developments/Research:
Behavioral Learning Theory
• Ivan Pavlov and the theory of classical
– Pavlov studying salivation glands in dogs
– Noticed that the dogs began salivating prior
the presentation of any food
– Turned out the dogs were responding to the
lab coats since ALL of their food had been
delivered by people wearing lab coats
Pavlovian Conditioning
(Classical Conditioning)
• Pavlov began presenting other Neutral
stimuli prior to the presentation of food to
determine if he could alter the effects of
the Neutral stimuli.
• With repeated pairings he found that he
Classical Conditioning
• Unconditioned Stimulus- FOOD (results in
• Neutral Stimulus- Bell (does not result in
Neutral Stimulus
Unconditioned Stimulus
Eventually the bell begins to elicit salivation and then we call it a Conditioned Stimulus
John Watson
• “Father of Behaviorism”
• Landmark (yet extremely controversial
study by today’s standards) explored how
phenomenon we commonly refer to as
“instincts” can actually be influenced by
environmental events and classical
Little Albert
• Watson utilized the techniques identified
by Pavlov to condition fear in infants
towards items that the infants had
previously not been fearful of.
• “Taught” Little Albert to fear white rats,
rabbits, etc.
Little Albert
Neutral Stimulus= White Rats= No emotion
Unconditioned Stimulus= Loud sound= Fear
Conditioned Stimulus= White Rats= Fear
Little Albert Video
B.F. Skinner
• Studied the work of Pavlov, Watson, and
• Developed the theory of Operant
– Consequences (as opposed to Antecedents)
can impact behavior and either strengthen it
or weaken it
Lever Presses
• Skinner initially studied behaviors of rats in
what is now referred to as a Skinner Box
Operant Conditioning: Skinner Box
• Behavior= Lever Press
• Consequences Delivered:
– Food Pellets: Increased Lever Press
– Water: Increased Lever Press
– Electric Shock: Decreased Lever Press
– No consequences: Decreased Lever Press
Two Types of Behavior Emerge
• Respondent Behavior (Pavlov, Watson)
– Behavior that responds to the environment
– Behavior that is controlled by the events that
immediately precede it
– Reflexive Behavior
• Change through conditioning
• Operant Behavior
– Behavior that acts on the environment
– Behavior that is controlled by the events that
immediately follow it
• Change through manipulating consequences
• Operant (learned)
– Math problems completed
– Words read per minute
– Saying “cookie” when you
want to eat one
– Hitting someone that asks
you to do difficult tasks
– Spitting on someone that is
not paying attention to you
– Stopping at a red light
– Getting a drink of water
when you’re thirsty
• Respondent Behavior
Salivating at the smell of
good food
– Knee tap reflex
– Eyes watering after
punched in nose
– Glands releasing
endorphins after exercise
Three-Term Contingency:
A Model for Analyzing Behavior
What happens
just prior to the
What does
the student
actually do:
What happens just
after the behavior:
For Us as Educators:
Why Operant Behavior?
• Operant behavior makes up the LARGE
majority of the type of behavior that we
would be interested in changing.
• In fact, operant behavior makes up the
most of our behavior…particularly once
we’ve experienced life to the point of being
Operant Behavior
• Acts on the environment to produce a
consequence and in turn, the likelihood
that the behavior will occur again is
affected by its immediate consequence.
• This consequence is a reinforcer if (and
only if) it leads to an increase in the
• In other words, Operant Behavior is
behavior that is controlled by it’s
Elementary Principles of Behavior:
The Impact of Consequences
• Increase Behavior
– Reinforcement
• Positive Reinforcement
• Negative Reinforcement (Escape)
• Decrease Behavior
– Punishment
• Positive Punishment
• Negative Punishment
– Extinction
• Process in which a behavior is
strengthened by the immediate
consequence that reliably follows its
– Occurrence of a behavior
– Followed by ADDITION of a stimulus or an
– Results in strengthening of the behavior
Types of Reinforcement
• Positive Reinforcement
– Occurrence of a behavior
– Followed by ADDITION of a stimulus or an INCREASE IN
INTENSITY of a stimulus
– Results in strengthening of the behavior
• Negative Reinforcement (Escape)
– Occurrence of behavior
– Followed by REMOVAL of a stimulus or a
– Results in STRENGTHENING of the behavior
Escape and Avoidance
• Escape bx: occurrence of bx results in
termination of an aversive stimulus that
was already present when the bx occurred
• Avoidance bx: occurrence of bx prevents
presentation of aversive stimulus
Imagine this Scenario
• A mom is walking through a grocery store with
her 3 year old child.
• Mom passes the candy aisle but does not turn
down the aisle.
• The child, upon not getting to go down the candy
aisle, begins to throw a fit.
• People all around the store are staring at mom
and her crying child.
• Mom turns around and goes down the candy
Contrast the Types of
Negative Reinforcement for Mom
Mom hears tantrum
and feels uncomfortable
Mom gives candy
Mom no longer hears
tantrum and feels better
• Mom is more likely to give candy to tantruming child in future.
Positive Reinforcement for Child
Child has no candy
Child tantrums in store
Child has candy
• Child is more likely to tantrum in the future when in the store.
How About This Scenario
Noah and his teacher are sitting at a table
playing with a Kermit the Frog puppet. Noah
really likes Kermit the Frog. Then, Noah’s
teacher pulls out some flash cards and takes
the puppet from Noah because it’s time to do a
little bit of work. Noah begins screaming and
immediately his teacher becomes
uncomfortable (afterall, Noah’s parents are
watching). She tells Noah that he can play
with the puppet for 2 more minutes and then
they’ll do the work. Noah smiles and begins
happily playing with the puppet again.
Contrast the Types of
Negative Reinforcement for Teacher
Teacher feels
Pressure and is
Teacher gives
Noah puppet
Teacher feels less
pressure and a bit
more comfortable
Positive Reinforcement for Child
Noah loses
access to
Noah begins
to scream
Noah gains
to puppet
So What Makes Reinforcement
• Immediacy
– The longer the delay between the exhibition of
the bx and the consequence, the less
effective the consequence will be
• Contingency
– When the response produces the
consequence and the consequence does not
occur unless the response occurs first
What else makes SR+ work?
• Establishing operations: events that
change the value of a stimulus as a
reinforcer…or…sometimes an item is a
reinforcer…sometimes it isn’t.
– Deprivation: I haven’t eaten since 8 am.
– Satiation: I just scarfed down Thanksgiving
dinner.....would I want more food? NO!
Schedules of Reinforcement
• Specifies whether every response is
followed by a reinforcer or whether only
some responses are followed by a
– Continuous reinforcement (CRF)
• Use me to teach new behavior (acquisition)
– Intermittent reinforcement
• Use me to maintain behavior (maintenance)
What else might affect behavior?
• Setting events or contextual variables: events that
occurred in the past (as in, not immediately before the
behavior) that may or may not affect the likelihood of
– The bus was late
– Parents speak Spanish at home
– New baby in the house
• We probably cannot use this type of information to
modify instruction or programs, unless our data show
consistent correlations between these types of events
and the probability of behavior. In other words, we
cannot use these types of events as “excuses” to not
teach the children in the same way we always do.
Decreasing Behavior
• Extinction
– The process that occurs when a behavior that
previously received reinforcement no longer
receives reinforcement.
– Extinction Burst
• A sudden and temporary increase in frequency,
intensity, duration of a behavior that has been put
on extinction.
• Occurs 100% of the time
Using Extinction
• Effective method for decreasing behavior
– Must have ability to be consistent in order to
“ride out” the extinction burst
• If you give in during the extinction burst…you have
now taught the individual that all that is required is
more/longer/harder exhibition of the behavior.
• Must always include a systematic
reinforcement procedure to increase the
alternative desired response.
Brief Discussion of
Which we will all try VERY hard not to
use…because we all want to create
“positive” learning environments.
• Positive Punishment
– The delivery of a stimulus that immediately
follows a behavior and results in a decrease
in the occurrence of that behavior
• Negative Punishment
– The removal of a stimulus that immediately
follows a behavior and results in a decrease
in the occurrence of that behavior
Punishment Examples
• Tyler is a 6 year old boy with a very bad mouth.
He’s only 6 years old, but he knows every 4letter word in the book. Agatha, his mother, is
somewhat old-school. She also had a badmouth when she was 6 years old, but she’ll
never forget that her mother wouldn’t stand for it.
Each time her mother heard Agatha curse, the
soap came out and went straight into Agatha’s
mouth. Agatha learned quickly NEVER to curse
in front of her mother.
Positive Punishment
Agatha did not have the bitter
Taste of soap in her mouth
says “S*it”
Agatha gets the bitter
taste of soap
What about this one??
Agatha’s mother hears her
Precious daughter curse
Agatha’s mother
inserts the soap
Agatha’s mother no
longer hears her
daughter curse
Another Example
• Joe LOVES his video games. His
grandmother is babysitting him one day
and notices that he shoves his brother and
knocks him over every time his brother
comes near him while he is playing with a
video game. Grandma obviously doesn’t
like this so she tells Joe if he shoves his
brother again, the video game is GONE.
Well, he does, and she takes it away. Joe
no longer shoves his brother.
Negative Punishment
Joe has video game
Joe shoves brother
Joe loses access
to video game
What about this one?
Joe’s brother is not tasting
The carpet
Joe’s brother approaches
Joe while he is playing video
Joe’s brother is tasting
the carpet
In summary:
Terminology and Definitions
– Anything that occurs immediately before a behavior; specific stimulus condition under
which the behavior occurs
– Neutral (not good or bad), anything that someone says or does
– What immediately follows behavior; will either increase or decrease behavior
– Any stimulus that is added or removed immediately after a behavior that will increase
the likelihood of that behavior occurring in the future
– Any stimulus that is added or removed immediately after a behavior that will
decrease the likelihood of that behavior occurring in the future
– Withholding reinforcement for a previously reinforced response resulting in a
decrease in the behavior

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