5 Modification of Behavior:Characteristics,And Techniques

Behavior modification is a broad range of psychological, medical and physical procedures for treating emotional dysfunction and maladjustment and changing behavior patterns. Procedures may include physical or mental coercion, brainwashing, brain surgery, drugs or psychotherapy, physical punishment or any combination of these or other procedures  all of them designed to alter subject behavior.

5 Modification of Behavior:Characteristics,And Techniques

10  characteristics Of Behavior Modification Techniques

  1. It is based on the theoretical principles of the psychology of learning and models derived from scientific psychology to explain, predict and treat behavior.
  2. Behaviors, normal or abnormal, are acquired, maintained and modified by the principles of learning. In this way, behavior is, in large part, a consequence of learning.
  3. Its objective is the modification or elimination of maladaptive or negative behaviors, replacing them with more adapted ones.
  4. Behavior modification puts the emphasis on the here and now, on the current determinants of the current problem. This does not mean that past history is rejected; The causes of behavior are always important in determining how to change it. The action object is the current problem behavior.
  5. The experimental methodology is used in the evaluation of the behaviors, the design of the treatment and the evaluation of the results.
  6. Behavior modification is active: the tasks assigned are crucial for the change.
  7. Carrying out the previous point, the self – control capacity is enhanced , the patient becoming the therapist; This implies teaching coping skills and resources.
  8. The modification of behavior is individualized: the treatment is adapted to the subject and their circumstances, finding the best for each person.
  9. Behavior modification is gradual, progressively increasing the resources and skills of the person.

Russian psychologist Ivan P. Pavlov stumbled on behavior modification at the turn of the 20th century when he trained a dog to salivate at the sight of a circle projected on a screen. The dog did not salivate at the sight of an ellipse. As Pavlov gradually altered the shape of the ellipse to resemble a circle, the dog grew agitated and gradually ceased to salivate at the sight of the circle. Later, in 1920, John B. Watson, the American behaviorist, and his colleagues instilled a fear reaction to rats in an 1 1 -month baby by sounding a loud noise at the approach of a white laboratory rat. Prior to behavior modification, the baby had played gleefully with the gentle white rat.

Techniques Of Behavior Modification

The purpose of behavior modification is not to understand why or how a particular behavior began, even though they are relevant data. This area focuses on changing behavior, for which various techniques are used, among which we will describe the following:

Positive reinforcement

This technique, based on behavioral theories, consists of matching a positive stimulus with a specific behavior. A good example of positive reinforcement would be when teachers reward their students with stickers for getting good grades.Positive reinforcement is also commonly used in dog training. 

Negative reinforcement

This technique is the opposite of positive reinforcement. It consists in matching the disappearance of a negative or aversive stimulus with a concrete behavior.A child who gets angry every time they put vegetables to eat and finally gets to eat something else is a good example of negative reinforcement. The child is getting, through his tantrum, the disappearance of the negative stimulus that is the vegetable.


Punishment is designed to weaken behaviors by matching an unpleasant stimulus with a behavior. Receiving a ticket for speeding is a good example of punishment.


Flooding techniques involve exposing the person to objects, stimuli or situations that cause fear, in an intense and rapid way: for example, forcing someone with fear of snakes to hold one for ten minutes.

Systematic desensitization

It is also used to treat phobias , and involves teaching the individual to remain calm while focusing on their particular fear. For example, someone with a fear of bridges might start by looking at a picture of a bridge, then continue thinking about staying on a bridge and finally walk on a bridge of truth.

by Abdullah Sam
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