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Applied Behavioral Analysis and Case Studies Bobby, Jackie, and Emma

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Applied Behavioral Analysis and Case Studies Bobby, Jackie, and Emma
Joshua Stewart
Kaplan University
PS360- Unit 4 Assignment
Prof. Chrystal Ayala
June 15, 2015

Applied Behavioral Analysis and Case Studies Bobby, Jackie, and Emma
Applied Behavioral Analysis is a natural science that aims to systematically apply intervention processes using the behavior learning theory in order to remove or change undesirable socially significant behaviors (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007). Applied behavioral analysis can be applied in many setting and situations and the intervention process and techniques depend on those settings and individual situations. Applied behavioral analysis is used to modify target behaviors that can occur in the home, in the community, in an educational setting, and is even used to aid in treatment for rehabilitation programs. Through the use of different components of ABA such as operant conditioning, reinforcement, modification programs, and extinction to name a few, one will develop a behavioral modification plan to best suit each client’s specific needs.
In the first case, Bobby is an 8-year-old boy who cannot keep his room cleaned or organized despite the fact that he is constantly reminded by his father to do so. Mr. Kelley would like to establish a modification process for Bobby to encourage him to keep his bedroom clean on a regular basis. First the target behavior and modification process must be identified in order to determine the appropriate reinforcement technique to achieve the desired goal. A target behavior is an accurate and concise description of the identified behavior that needs to be modified so in this case the target behavior is the behavior that is causing Mr. Kelly emotional stress which is Bobby not cleaning his messy room when asked. In order to increase the desired behavior of room cleaning, the best modification technique would be to incorporate operant conditioning. Therefore, a modification plan is designed using operant conditioning which works by implementing stimulus change either positive or negative to initiate the desired behavioral response (Cooper, Heron, Heard, 2007). For Bobby, the best way to implement this change is through the process of positive reinforcement in which a reinforcer or positive stimulus is given shortly after the desired response occurs in order increase that specific behavior. It is important that the reinforcement is age appropriate and desirable in order for it to be effective in encouraging the desired behavior response. An effective positive reinforcement technique would be to give Bobby money or a toy when he cleaned his room so that he will want to continue the desired behavior of his father.
In order for this modification process to be fully effective, schedules of reinforcement must be put in place to determine what conditions the behaviors will produce reinforcement. Schedules of reinforcement are best explained as a rule stating which instances of a behavior will be reinforced. This is an important element of the learning process in an individual and the desired behavior. When and how often we reinforce a behavior can have a significant impact on the response and how quickly it the behavior becomes the norm as well as how that behavior reacts to extinction (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007). The best type of reinforcement schedule for Bobby would be a ratio schedule which can be either fixed or variable. When using a ratio schedule, the behavior is learned at a quick, steady rate and produces little or no post-reinforcement pause in the response. A fixed-ratio schedule is a technique used where a response is reinforced only after a specified number of responses. If Mr. Kelly offers to give Bobby an allowance after he cleans his room 5 times or keeps it clean for a week, then this will result in a high response of the desired behavior so that he can get the reward. The only disadvantage would be the possibility of Bobby getting tired of cleaning his room or cutting corners when he does clean. The next type of reinforcement schedule is the variable-ratio schedule in which the reinforcement is given after an unpredictable number of behavior responses. Bobby will never know when we he is going to get the positive reinforcement so he will continue to maintain the desired behavior. Mr. Kelly could write down 3 rewards on strips of paper and place them in a jar with blanks strips of paper. Every time Bobby cleans his room, he gets to draw from the jar until he gets a reward. This will also produce a high rate of responding, but minimize post-reinforcement pause. Using operant conditioning paired with positive reinforcement with schedules that offer the reinforcement so that the behavior response happens quickly and often is the best process of behavior modification for this specific case (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007).
In the next case study, Jackie is a 23 year-old who was bit by a dog which required stitches when she was only 3. She remembers what happened in detail and the psychological distress from the trauma causes her to avoid dogs at all cost, however; she is engaged to a dog breeder and will need to learn to how to get past this before she gets married in which dogs will be a constant part of her life. Jackie needs help in overcoming this fear so she can live a healthy and happy home life. When trauma and distress engulf a person’s life and in turn dictates their behavior, there are specific principles that analysts use to help the individual overcome this obstacle and develop a modification plan.
Classical conditioning and negative reinforcement are two theories of applied behavior analysis that could be the cause of Jackie never getting over her childhood fear. When negative reinforcement occurs a stimulus is removed that can lead to a specific response or behavior. Since the incident, Jackie now sees dogs as the stimulus that will cause the undesired response of an attack or biting. In order for her to make she undesired response non-existent, she purposely removes the stimulus of seeing or being around dogs. Classical conditioning, also known as respondent conditioning, is often used in behavior modification when dealing with phobias or fears and what approach to take to treat them. Classical conditioning involves the manipulation of the antecedent stimuli, which controls the respondent behaviors (Miltenberger, 2011). In order to convince Jackie that not all dogs are going to attack her it is important for her to have a positive experience with a dog so that she can slowly become more comfortable and be able to deal with her partner’s profession and love for dogs. In order to achieve this Jackie would practice giving a dog a treat as she got closer and closer to the dog. Every time the dog would get a treat, the dog would wag its tail and lick Jackie to show happiness. This conditioning process to eliminate fear would have to happen numerous times so that Jackie could become familiar with the dog and learn to interact at different levels with the dog. Since Jackie’s fear of dogs was learned, then by using classical conditioning behavior of avoiding dogs can be unlearned and the fear can be desynthesized.
In the last case, Emma is a 4 year-old girl who will not clean her room no matter what is done. Neither receiving a time out or a reward is enough to get her start or increase the desired behavior of cleaning her room. When it is time for her to clean up her toys, she throws them, screams, and angrily throws a tantrum. When this negative behavior occurs, Emma’s parents give in and pick her up and proceed to clean her room themselves. Without knowing, using operant conditioning, these actions of her parents are the underlying factors that are reinforcing the bad behavior that Emma displays. When her parents pick her up, this shows Emma that she gets their love and attention when she throws a tantrum, and when her parents pick up her room for her it teaches Emma that she will not have to clean her room herself.
Despite the fact that the operant conditioning theory was used to reinforce the wrong behavior, it can still be used to create a behavior modification plan to correct the undesired behavior. In order to do this, the previous stimulus of her parent’s behavior (picking up her room and showing her attention) would need to be replaced with a different type of reinforcement in order to change the target behavior. Using positive reinforcement such as giving her praise while she cleans her room and completes her own tasks is one good way to achieve this as well as picking her up and showing her attention when she gave them the desired response. Another important concept in behavior modification for this specific case is extinction. Extinction is a procedure that occurs when reinforcement of a previously reinforced behavior is discontinued which results in the frequency of that behavior to decrease in the future (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007). This concept is applied when Emma’s parents refuse to pick her up or clean her room which is the desired response that she wants, however; the goal in this modification process in to achieve the desired response the parents want.
All these behavior modification techniques are very important concepts to in applied behavioral analysis that can have a significant impact in changing or achieving the desired target behavior of the individual. The procedures that are used vary based on the individual, the situation, and the setting whether it is used to address phobias or get a child to clean their room. It is important to make sure intervention techniques are age appropriate and chose to be the most effective in changing the behavior. Operant conditioning, classical condition, positive and negative reinforcement, and extinction are just a few ways that behavior analyst help other positive change a socially significant behavior that can have a huge impact on their life both short term and long term.

Work Cited
Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Howard, W.L. (2007) Applied behavior analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Miltenberger, R.G. (2011). Behavior modification principles and procedures. Bellmont, CA:
Wadsworth.…...

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