As we have our patterns so far, we can see that something triggers a behavior. There is a cause. It is a popular thing for people on social media to comfort others with “Everything happens for a reason.” Well, this is true. However it is often not mentioned that it may not be a good reason, and it may not have a good outcome either. But yes, there is a reason.
However, if we want to encourage or discourage that behavior in the future, there needs to be something to reinforce, or to stop it. This would come in the shape or a reward or punishment, something good that encourages the repetition, or something bad that discourages it.
One of my favorite examples of this can be found in this video of B.F. Skinner and a pigeon. He kept his pigeons hungry by keeping them below weight (this is the antecedent, or cause), and rewarded the behavior he wanted to reinforce, (in this case turning anti-clockwise) with food. This is about as clear demonstration of ABC as you will find.
A – Antecedent > Cause > Hunger.
B – Behavior > Action > Turning.
C – Consequence > Reward > Food.
The interesting thing here, as we looked at in The Science of Superstition is that in reality, turning has nothing to do with food. However, when a pattern forms and something good comes of it, we tend to repeat it.
So here’s your goal for the day: Pick something you want to change, think about what may cause you to do something that gets in the way, think about how you can change it, and then think about how you can reward yourself and reinforce the behavior in the future. It’s not easy to change a behavior, especially if it has been reinforced over a period of time but by examining the ABC of behavior, and some honest self-awareness and reflection, you can be successful.
Here are today’s three takeaways:
1 – Remember – your behavior didn’t spring from nothing. Something caused it, whether internal (hunger), or external (an event that caused fear) for example.
2 – It is very difficult to change a behavior without changing the cause, and of course, the thing that reinforces it.
3 – Somewhere there is a confused pigeon spinning in circles wondering why it is hungry. Learn to differentiate between actual influencing factors and superstitions.
At PsychSpot we are working on a couple of different programs to help change some of the things that are holding you back founded on some principles used in articles from the last two weeks. Watch this space (well, the site in general, not this page) for details.
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