Presentation on theme: "Lecture 7 decreasing THE FREQUENCY OF BEHAVIOR – Punishment Behavior Analysis."— Presentation transcript:
Lecture 7 decreasing THE FREQUENCY OF BEHAVIOR – Punishment Behavior Analysis
Review Last week we talked about ways in which to reduce the frequency of behavior We talked about extinction and differential reinforcement Can you tell me what these are? These are excellent procedures, however often the first thing people think of, when they wish to reduce behavior, is punishment! But punishment to the every day person and punishment to the behavior analyst are two different things
Punishment in the every day sense To most people the word punishment means payback! Another word for this is retribution. I.e.. If someone commits and offence, they deserve to be punished Maybe when we think of punishment, we may also think of suffering, torture or pain. In other words, we usually think of punishment of hurting someone in some way Punishment is used to make someone suffer for what they have done For now, put aside these definitions, because for us, punishment is something very different.
Punishment to the Behavior Analyst To start, we must go back to the Law of Effect, which suggests that behavior depends on its consequences. The flashcard definition: Law of effect: in any given situation, the probability of a behavior occurring is a function of the consequences that behavior has had, in that situation, in the past. The law of effect implies that consequences can change behavior in one of two ways: Consequences can strengthen behavior Consequences can weaken behavior
Punishment to the Behavior Analyst Remember that when we say strengthen or weaken, we are always talking about frequency or rates of behavior Therefore the consequences of a given behavior can increase or decrease the rate of that behavior Consequences that increase or maintain the frequency of behavior are called – reinforcers Consequences that decrease the rate of behavior are called – punishers Punisher: An event that, when made contingent on a behavior, decreases the frequency of that behavior
Punishment to the Behavior Analyst Punishers are aversive. You may recall that an aversive event is one which people try to avoid or escape. For example, having our toes stepped on is an aversive event that we will try to avoid if possible Aversives can be used as punishers, that is, if they follow a behavior, they will typically reduce the strength of the behavior. But as with reinforcers, punishers are defined in terms of their effect on behavior If a consequence reduces the rate of behavior it is a punisher, if it doesn’t then it is not!
Punishment to the Behavior Analyst Now reinforcement involves using reinforcers The definition for reinforcement: the procedure of providing consequences for a behavior that increase of maintain the frequency of that behavior Punishment involves using punishers But what is punishment? Punishment: the procedure of providing consequences for a behavior that decrease the frequency of that behavior. Please note that punishment involves reducing behavior, not people. We don’t punish a person i.e. we don’t reduce the frequency of a person! We decrease the frequency of their behavior To a behaviorist, punishment has nothing to do with retribution or justice, it has to do with reducing the frequency of behavior
Kinds of punishment Punishment can take many different forms. Some of the more common examples are: Reprimanding Response cost Time out Over correction Physical punishment
Reprimanding Reprimand generally means providing expressions of disproval, usually in the form of verbal remarks Reprimand: to reduce the frequency of target behavior by making disapproval contingent on the target behavior Most often reprimand takes the form of a few words, usually in a loud voice Sometimes it takes the form of sarcasm ‘oh that’s just great’ Sometimes it takes the form of rhetoric ‘ are you crazy?’ Most often it takes the form of corrective feedback ‘no, not like that’
Reprimanding Reprimanding is arguably the most frequent form of punishment. White (1975) found that after the second grade, teachers reprimand students twice as much as they praise them. However, despite its popularity, reprimanding is not always effective. This is because when you reprimand someone you are paying them attention, and sometimes attention functions as a reinforcer, especially with children.
Response cost Response cost is a stronger form of punishment than reprimanding In lay terms, response cost suggests that if you engage in target behavior then you have to pay a price. The behavior costs you something Response cost: to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making removal of a reinforcer contingent on the target behavior A good example of a response cost is a detention: if you act up in class the you don’t get to have a playground break Here the consequence of engaging in bad behavior in class means losing something reinforcing
Time out (TO) TO is short for ‘time out from positive reinforcement’ Time out: to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making removal of a person from a reinforcing situation contingent on the target behavior What this means is that when a person is in a situation in which reinforcers are readily available and he performs the target behavior, you remove him from the reinforcing situation For example, if Jonny is playing in the sand, and he hits Billy. Then Jonny is sent to the corner, away from the sand
Time out (TO) Its important to note that often parents will send a child to the his room for a time out. But remember that the idea of a time out is to remove all reinforcers, if the kid has a PS3 in his room, then I doubt the time out will function as a punisher Importantly, once let out of a time out, reinforcers then become freely available to the child. In other words, the child isn't told off, scolded, snubbed, lectured with or even reasoned with If the kid misbehaves again, or leaves the time out area the he/she is simply put back TO is a safe, and often very effective procedure. However serious behavior problems might require stronger measures
Overcorrection When more serious measures are needed, overcorrection usually gets the job done Overcorrection: to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making restitution for damage done and repeated performance of appropriate behavior contingent on the target behavior Overcorrection has two elements Firstly, restitution to the damage done – i.e. if you damage something then you replace it, not only that but you make improvements. E.g. if a kid runs through a neighbors garden and steps on a flower. Then not only will he have replace the flower, but also make other improvements to the garden, like weeding Secondly, repeated performance of the appropriate behavior i.e. repeatedly performing the right behavior in the situation E.g. the kid might be required to pass the neighbors garden in the right way, about 15 or 20 times! Overcorrection is useful, but has problems It is very time consuming It does not always work
Physical punishment When overcorrection doesn't’t work, then physical punishment may be appropriate. Physical punishment: the reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making brief and non injurious contact with the skin contingent on the target behavior Its important to note that the correct use of physical punishment causes neither long lasting discomfort nor permanent damage. This distinction is an important one, as it separates punishment from abuse. Many parents consider the use of physical punishment an essential tool. Behaviorists generally oppose the use of physical punishment, except when the behavior problem might cause serious injury
Physical punishment Interestingly, behaviorists use physical punishment most in treating self injurious behavior. For example, one autistic child chewed off his fingers, here simply spraying the child with water each time he chewed reduced the frequency of behavior. Its also a common misconception that behaviorists use shock treatment lots. In the 60’s it was more popular, but most get by with extinction, differential reinforcement and milder form of punishment Nevertheless, if you're serious about helping people with debilitating behavior problems, then you have to do what you have to do
Matilda the food thief Stealing is sometimes a problem with institutionalized patients Matilda was a 47 year old schizophrenic who stole food, she took food from the food counter and from other patients And she was very fat, weighing over 250 pounds. The staff had dealt with the problem by creating a special diet and persuading Matilda not to steal, but these efforts did not work The researchers had to attempt to reduce the amount of stealing
Matilda the food thief Ayllon began by taking a baseline; he found that Matilda stole on 66% of all meals He next asked staff to stop trying to persuade her not to steal, and simply make her eat on her own, so that she couldn’t steal from other patients. If she ever approached a table that was not her own then the nurses were to escort her out of the dining hall. Meaning that she could eat no more, even the food that was her own The cost of stealing food meant that she went hungry The result of the intervention was a dramatic drop in the amount of stealing Additionally, she began to lose much weight What sort of punishment is this?
Rules for using punishment Punishment can be a very useful procedure if is used properly. The following rules will help you to do this: Define the target behaviors Select the appropriate punishers Make punishment immediate and certain Use extinction and differential reinforcement Monitor the results
Define the target behaviors Notice the plural there. The reason is that we are not only trying to punish an unwanted behavior, we are also trying to reinforce a more acceptable appropriate behavior So you need to identify both the behavior you want to weaken and the behavior you want to strengthen
Select the appropriate punishers Once you have decided which behavior to punish, you have to decide how to punish it. You will probably have many punishers at your disposal but you should generally go for the mildest punishers first E.g. if a quiet word of criticism will do the job then you don’t need to shout a reprimand However, as well as avoiding punishers that are too strong (shaking a child) we also have to avoid punishers that are too weak. This is because the person might get used to the punisher, which will cause a steady increase in the amount of punishment inflicted
Make punishment immediate and certain Like reinforcement, if punishment is to be effective then it has to follow the target behavior very closely, and it has to be very likely that the punishment will follow the target behavior. If you wait too long before delivering the punisher then the person might feel another behavior is being punished And if the punisher doesn’t happen every time after the target behavior, then the punisher will lose its power
Use extinction and differential reinforcement Punishment of inappropriate behaviors should always be in conjunction with extinction and differential reinforcement For example, an unwanted behavior must be reinforcing in some way. Whilst punishing the behavior it is important that these reinforcing consequences be put into extinction Often people use punishment without extinction. This means that once the punishment stops, the target problem re-occurs because it still has reinforcing consequences. You would also use differential reinforcement i.e. you would try to provide the reinforcers the person is getting from the target behavior, for doing something else Punishment by itself is pretty limited, because punishment just teaches us what not to do
Monitor the results You must never assume that the procedure you use is having the intended effects Intentions don’t guarantee changes in the frequency of behavior The only way of knowing is to measure the behavior at baseline and intervention Remember that if the target behavior declines then you have been using a punisher, if it has not then you have not been employing a punisher!
Problems with punishment Anyone who takes an unbiased look at the literature on punishment has to include that it is very effective However, there is a strong case to be made against it, on three levels Inappropriate use Moral objections Negative side effects
Inappropriate use People often forget that punishment is about reducing the frequency of behavior; its not about hurting people or retribution Therefore sometime people punish inappropriately: They use stronger punishment than necessary They punish long after the target behavior occurs They provide punishers not contingent on the target behavior They reinforce the behavior they are trying to eliminate
Moral objections Some people object to the use of aversive consequences to change behavior Particularly with regards to children, whose disturbance they see as ‘not their fault’ or a ‘mental disturbance’ I feel that punishment is justified in certain contexts where the alternative is worse E.g. spraying water is someone’s eye is better that them chewing their finger off!
Negative side effects One side effect of punishment is that it produces undesirable emotional reactions, particularly fear and anger. Another is that if you deliver a punisher to someone, then you will become associated with the aversive (a conditioned stimulus) meaning that you will be something to be avoided, or even attacked And if the punisher backs off, then the attacking behavior will be reinforced! If you ever see a kid kicking and screaming when a parent tries to punish him you can be sure that that behavior has worked in the past The fact that fear and aggression are sometimes by products of punishment is a problem for therapist, teacher and parents, who need a good relationship with their clients/students/children. However these problems only tend to happen with physical punishment.
Negative side effects Another possible side effect of punishment is abuse. People often find punishment to be negatively reinforcing i.e. it works in allowing us to avoid behavior that is annoying. The problem happens when we use punishment more and more when other procedures may be more appropriate A final problem is imitation. If I get what I want from slapping you, then maybe you are likely to slap someone else to get what you want? Numerous studies show that parents who use physical abuse with their children, have children who are likely to physically abuse others
Flash card! Punisher an event that, when made contingent on a behavior, decreases the frequency of that behavior Punishment the procedure of providing consequences for a behavior that decrease the frequency of that behavior Reprimand to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making disapproval contingent on the target behavior Response cost to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making removal of a reinforcer contingent on the target behavior
Flash card! Time out to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making removal of a person from a reinforcing situation contingent on the target behavior Overcorrection to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making restitution for damage done and repeated performance of appropriate behavior contingent on the target behavior Physical punishment to reduce the frequency of a target behavior by making brief and non injurious contact with the skin contingent on the target behavior