Behavioral Analysis

The first step in applied behavior analysis is to analyze the problem. The analysis must be behavioral; that is, one must state the problem in terms of behaviors, controlling stimuli, reinforcers, punishers, or observational learning...the concepts we have covered in this chapter. Antecedent and consequent stimuli must be identified. After this analysis, one can make an educated guess about which intervention strategy or "treatment" might be best.

Lindsley's Simplified Precision Model

Green and Morrow (1974) offered a convenient, four-step guide to successful behavior change. Developed by Ogden Lindsley, it is called Lindsley's Simplified Precision Model.

What is Lindsley's Simplified Precision Model?

1. Pinpoint the target behavior to be modified.

2. Record the rate of that behavior.

3. Change consequences of the behavior.

4. If the first try does not succeed, try and try again with revised procedures.

The first step in Lindsley's list was to pinpoint the behavior to be modified. This is often the most crucial step. If you cannot specify a behavior, how can you modify it?

What "heroic" efforts are exemplified by the list of speech problems?

Behavior modifiers and therapists sometimes go to heroic lengths to identify specific, modifiable behaviors. For example, a team of behavior therapists at a speech clinic came up with 49 different, specific verbal problems. The checklist included the following:

1. Overtalk. A person speaks considerably more than is appropriate.

2. Undertalk. A person doesn't speak enough.

3. Fast talk. A person talks too fast.

4. Slow talk. A person speaks too slowly.

5. Loud talk. A person speaks too loudly.

6. Quiet talk. A person speaks too softly.

7. Singsong speech. A person talks as if singing or chanting.

8. Monotone speech. A person speaks with unvarying tone.

9. Rapid latency. A person speaks too quickly after someone else.

10. Slow latency. A person responds only very slowly.

11. Affective talk. A person talks with great emotion, crying, whining, screaming, or speaking with a shaky voice.

12. Unaffective talk. A person speaks in a flat, unemotional voice even when emotion is appropriate.

13. Obtrusions. A person too often "butts in" to conversation.

...and the list goes on, up to #49, which is "illogical talk."

(Adapted from Thomas, Walter & O'Flaherty, 1974, pp. 248-251.)

What happened when a client first entered the speech clinic? What happened once the problem was specified?

When a client first entered the speech clinic, the therapists checked off which behaviors defined the client's problem. Each category specifies a type of behavior: something that can be recognized, singled out for reinforcement, extinction, or punishment. If a person clearly alternates between logical and illogical talk, it is possible to reinforce one and extinguish the other. Once the problem is specified in terms of something that can be measured or detected, a behavior, then a therapist can attempt to change the antecedents or consequences of the behavior, to alter the frequency of the behavior.


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Copyright © 2007 Russ Dewey