Take the case of Little Johnny from the lecture. Provide a functional analysis of this case. Include all the current reinforcers and punishers at work, his behavioral problems at home and at school, and your treatment plan for using operant conditioning, and any form of behavioral therapy to some of the target behaviors. Be specific about the operant conditioning plan and behavioral goals. Support your choices with citations and references.
Use your own words, and include citations for sources (if needed) as needed to avoid plagiarism.
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Course Learning Outcomes for Unit IV
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. Explain the different procedures for increasing and decreasing behaviors (positive and negative reinforcement and punishment).
2. Identify factors important in effective punishment, as well as applicable theories and disadvantages in its use.
3. Distinguish between learned helplessness and learned optimism.
4. Give examples of how the field of behavioral economics has been applied to animal and human behaviors.
5. Compare and contrast the theories on predicting a reinforcer.
6. Discuss how a functional analysis is useful in behavior therapy.
Little Johnny’s parents have brought him into behavior therapy saying he is “out of control.” Johnny is a four year-old and has been dismissed from three preschools for “aggressive behavior,” including hitting and biting other children. At school, he was removed from the classroom and sent home for the day. He preferred the consequences as he did not like attending preschool. Johnny “does not listen” at home and “rules the roost” per his parents report. He will not go to bed on time and yells at his parents if they tell him to go to bed, ask him to help tidy his room, or ask for help with any household chores. He likes to watch television, play his handheld videogame, and play with his toys. His parents are often relieved when he chooses to do these things, so they let him out of their initial requests. They have resorted to spanking him, which has escalated his outbursts and aggressive behavior at school. They claim time-out did not work as he just enjoyed playing in his room during the time-out period. Their goals are for him to be able to attend a school without being withdrawn for behavioral issues, and for him to comply with simple rules at home without tantrums and outbursts. He does not meet criteria for ADHD and is not here for diagnosis, just behavior management.
Avoidance and Punishment
Theories and Research on Operant Conditioning
See information below.
UNIT IV STUDY GUIDE
Avoidance, Punishment, Theories, and Research on Operant Conditioning
In the Corner from a Home
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What would you do for Johnny and his parents? What are the reinforcers at work that might be maintaining his behavior? What kind of punishment is spanking and their attempts at time-out? Was he punished or reinforced at school? Why did not the time-out work at home? This case represents classic operant conditioning and a classic case for a behavior therapist.
As you can see from the case above, the operant conditioning concepts of reinforcers and punishments are applied to behavior therapy, home, and classroom situations. You will revisit this case again and propose solutions for Johnny and his family.
Other applications of operant conditioning theory and research include behavioral economics. Behavioral economics is a “field that uses principles from both behavioral psychology and economics to predict people’s choices and behaviors” (Mazur, 2012, p. 323). An application of behavioral economics was applied to the United States problem of obesity in a recent report. The Institute of Medicine wrote an extensive report on obesity calling for governmental interventions including building neighborhood sidewalks, requiring an hour of physical exercise at public schools, banning soft drinks in schools, and taxing sugary beverages. The report (2012) said:
“Theory and empirical data from the field of behavioral economics suggest that the majority of physical activity and eating behaviors are routine rather than choices made after deliberation about a set of options In such cases, changing the environmental cues or “default choices” to routinely prompt healthier choices could cause favorable (from a public health perspective) shifts in population behavior (p.14).”
What are your opinions on behavioral economics? Do you think these proposed environmental changes made by the government would cause behavioral changes in people and ultimately reduce the rates of obesity in children and/or adults in the U.S.? Which of the suggestions do you think might change behavior or not?
Similar to the behavioral economics theory being applied to obesity, the theory of learned helplessness has been applied to populations ranging from rats to depressed patients to professional football players. Dr. Martin Seligman is a psychologist who researched both learned helplessness and learned optimism at two different times in his career. This research is discussed in your textbook. The field of positive psychology came out of his research on both learned helplessness and learned optimism. “Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The Positive Psychology Center promotes research, training, education, and the dissemination of positive psychology. This field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within them, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play (University of Pennsylvania, 2007).”
Visit Google and type in “positive psychology.” One option might be the Positive Psychology Center, which contains a bibliography of research including articles on learned helplessness, learned optimism, and related research. What do you think about positive psychology? Do you believe we can learn to be optimistic or positive?
A last topic that is highlighted in this unit deals with avoidance and its treatment via flooding. We have already discussed systematic desensitization for treatment of anxiety disorders in previous units. However, flooding is a technique that does not gradually expose a person to a feared or avoided stimulus using a hierarchy of fears, but exposes them directly to the most
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feared stimulus. Research has shown that flooding is equally effective to systematic desensitization for those patients that can tolerate it. In fact, some patients prefer it due to its efficiency in treating their anxiety and fear. However, ethical considerations should be noted, such as obtaining informed consent from the patient about the details of the flooding session and providing a long enough exposure session for the anxiety to peak and pass.
As you can see, there are many practical applications of operant conditioning in our everyday lives. Are you being operantly conditioned?
Abdukadirov, S., & Marlow, M. L. (2012). Can behavioral economics combat obesity? There is little reason to think that further government intervention will shrink Americans’ waistlines. Regulation. 35(2) p.14.
Larrson, C. (1952). In the Corner from a Home [Photograph].Retrieved from Wikimedia.org
Mazur, J. E. (2012). Learning and behavior (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/index.html
In order for the links below to function properly, you must first log into the CSU Online Library and go to the Opposing Viewpoints database.
Alvy, K. (2009). Spanking Should Be Illegal. In H. Williams (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. Child Abuse. Detroit: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from Banning Corporal Punishment: What the Arguments Tell Us about Our Character Regarding the Treatment of Children, 2007, Center for the Improvement of Child Caring) Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CEJ3010115261&v=2.1&u=oran95108&it=r&p=GPS&sw=w&asid=f4329a804281af8d4356ac2eeb05e265
Saunders, D. (2009). Spanking Should Not Be Illegal. In H. Williams (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. Child Abuse. Detroit: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from California Spanking Law Proposal Is Absurd, The National Ledger, 2007) Retrieved from http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&display-query=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&dviSelectedPage=&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=&displayGroups=&sortBy=&zid=&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010115262&source=Bookmark&u=oran95108&jsid=94e148782aaaf37b1461ddfb1a944579
For further assistance locating these articles, contact the CSU Online Library at [email protected] or 877.268.8046 (toll free).