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Behavior Modification

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Behavior Modification

Behavior Modification, a psychological theory of human behavior. It evolved from the application of experimentally derived principles of learning to the modification of problem behaviors. The theory is based on a psychological model of human behavior that rejects the psychoanalytic or quasi-disease model of mental illness. Approaches to behavior modification assume that abnormal behavior is acquired and maintained in the same manner as normal behavior and can be changed directly through the application of social-learning principles. Assessment procedures focus on describing how an individual behaves, thinks, and feels in specific situations. Treatment methods are derived from the theories and findings of experimental psychology. These approaches also share a commitment to the use of scientific research methods to evaluate objectively the clinical utility of their procedures.
Behavior-modification procedures have been applied successfully to a broad range of psychological, medical, and educational problems among diverse populations. Some of the problems that have been treated include anxiety and phobic disorders, psychotic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and depression.
Several classic examples of the application of learning principles to behavioral problems were described in the first half of the 20th century, including the pioneering investigations of the Americans John B. Watson, Rosalie Rayner, and Mary Cover Jones on the acquisition and extinction of phobic responses in young children.
The publication in 1958 of Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition by Joseph Wolpe of South Africa was a landmark in behavior modification. It represented an important step in the use of this theory as ...

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...e role of the individual in applied behavior analysis, this theory assumes a reciprocal interaction between a person's actions and environmental consequences. Cognitive processes are central to what the individual learns in that they determine how environmental events are interpreted. Modeling procedures such as guided participation and symbolic modeling, in which learning occurs through observation, are examples of treatment methods derived from the social-learning approach. See also Behaviorism.

Bellack, A. S., and M. Hersen, Behavior Modification: An Introductory Textbook (Oxford 1977).
Watson, D. L., and R. G. Tharp, Self-Directed Behavior: Self Modification for Personal Adjustment, 4th ed. (Brooks/Cole Pub. Co. 1985).
Yule, William, ed., Behavior Modification for People with Mental Handicaps, ed. by Janet Carr, 2d ed. (Methuen 1988).

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