Thursday, August 1, 2013

People Are Not Reinforced, Behaviors Are!

Behaviorist know something a lot of people don't. It's a simple idea really, but one that holds true in every instance. They know that people, children, mental health patients, dogs, cats, iguanas, mice, goldfish, horses, marine toads, turtles, rabbits, sharks, sting rays, dolphins, quail, goats, elephants, giraffes, crows, geese, foxes, gemsbok, kudu (need I name more?) act according to a set of rules. These rules have already been laid out for us in pretty plain language by the pioneering fathers of the scientific field, Behaviorism. Behavior analysis deals with understanding and working with the consequences given as a result of an individual's behavior. And this is where reinforcement comes in.

They also know that you can reinforce a person's behavior because reinforcing a person is impossible!

How so you ask? Reinforcement means to provide a consequence that increases the likeliness a behavior will happen in the future from a person or animal. With understanding that we can now understand why a person cannot be reinforced, a person cannot "happen more in the future" what a nonsensical phrase!

We can however, say that a person's behavior is reinforced. Stating a person is involved helps behaviorists to organize who the behavior belongs to. Which leads me to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a bad bird, only bad behavior which can be changed.

Copyright 2013 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog


Miltenberger, Raymond. Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures. 5th. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 2011. 1-16. Print. 
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