Narrow down the results
Shaping, or the differential reinforcement of successive approximations, is thought by many to be the most important tool in the behavior analyst’s toolbox. Shaping is usually thought of as something one human does to change the behavior of another living organism, most often to a human but also to a pet or a laboratory subject of the nonhuman persuasion. In such cases, the human is the agent of the shaping in that the human decides the conditions under which successive approximations do or do not merit reinforcement.
Humans are constantly in search of the newest, brightest solution for problems in everyday life. We download countless apps for tracking calories, learning languages, working out, budgeting—you name it. In education, we do the same. But the newest, brightest thing in teaching and learning might not be the solution
Sitting here at my desk on a cold, snowy morning watching the snowflakes gently descend to blanket the landscape outside my window (such descriptions reveal why I am a behavior analyst and not a poet), reminds me of the operant (another reminder, too, of why I am not a poet). The operant is one of our most important concepts. Operants are classes of responses that have a similar effect on the environment. That effect can be to operate something that allows their measurement (like a child’s block-stacking or a pigeon’s key peck) or to produce a reinforcer or punisher.
Have you ever heard a paper presented at a conference or elsewhere about research with rats or pigeons, and it seems like the findings might be helpful in working with your clients? But then you wonder, is there really a connection between the two?
The following article appeared recently in the New York Times. It describes how police in Mumbai, India, undertook an experiment to control the excessive blowing of car horns by drivers caught in what must be nightmarish traffic in that largest of Indian cities.
I just googled the word “self”: 3,540,000,000 hits, more or less. That’s three-point five billion, just to be clear. Wow. What a word. What a construct. Whoever came up with the idea of self? (In his recent book, Flesh in the Age of Reason, which I highly recommend, Roy Porter suggested it might have been the 16th-century French philosopher Déscartes.)
Many applied behavior analysts find themselves in a different world from that in which they were trained. Most are trained by other behavior analysts in programs or even departments where the principal worldview is that of behavior analysis. Fast forward a couple of years (or more) and many of those same people find themselves in multidisciplinary settings, working with people who not only have different specialty areas—for example, medicine, rehabilitation therapy, social work—but, more importantly, a totally different way of looking at problems, both conceptually and methodologically
“Why did Johnny just throw the mother of all temper tantrums?” is a question many of you have asked and been asked, in some form or another. The response to this question, under scrutiny, may have been different. The perpetrator may have been different. The circumstances may have been different.