Monday, October 31, 2011

Equine Study Suggests Benefits Of Positive Reinforcement

The recent study in Denmark by Payana Hendriksen and colleagues suggested positive reinforcement methods were preferable to negative reinforcement when training horses in potentially stressful situations. They found that horses trained using positive reinforcement methods trained more quickly and showed less evidence of stress. more

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nest Learning Thermostat: Shiny Toy or Serious Behavior Modification Tool?

The Nest thermostat has a feature called “time to temperature,” which displays the amount of time it will take to heat or cool the home. This information is intended to prevent people from oversetting the temperature with the idea that when they turn it up higher, it will heat the room up faster, which, by the way, it won’t. What happens instead is that the home becomes overheated and the owner ends up opening the windows to cool it back down, wasting a ton of energy in the process. What’s more, Nest also provides a website that shows you how much energy, and money you are saving, a classic example of behavior modification. This kind of direct immediate feedback is also much of the impetus behind smart meters, where it is used to monitor and reduce household electrical usage. more

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Latest Issue of Behavioral Interventions Now Available

The latest issue of the journal Behavioral Interventions is now available. Behavioral Interventions aims to report research and practice involving the utilization of behavioral techniques in the treatment, education, assessment and training of students, clients or patients, as well as training techniques used with staff. Behavioral Interventions publishes: (1) research articles, (2) brief reports (a short report of an innovative technique or intervention that may be less rigorous than a research report), (3) topical literature reviews and discussion articles, (4) book reviews.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Iconic Sound Bites: A Pavlovian Response?

When done right, nothing is more instantly recognizable and associable as a catchy sound bite. Once upon a time, instantly recognizable jingles were the backbone of the advertising industry. Today, audio clips are a little more pervasive, considering our seeming dependence on electronic devices...One may feel a sound bite is just that, a quick piece of noise, but the above list should prove that a lot of meaning can be held within, and conveyed by, a short piece of well-composed sound. From insights into a certain time period, to creating a Pavlovian effect of instant joy or anticipation, recognizable pieces of noise are more important than the short amount of time it takes to listen to them would make them seem, and the tech industry understands that as much as — if not better than — anyone else. more

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Change Hurts: Influencing Our Energy Behavior Is Messy Business

Jon Bird is a master of getting people to change their ways...Last spring, Bird and his colleagues enlisted a group of 17 households on Tidy Street in Brighton, a seaside town south of London, who agreed to record their electricity use over time. To make their progress (or lack thereof) plainly visible, he enlisted artists from the nearby Goldsmiths College to stencil a giant graph down the street. A red line down the center of the graph indicated the city's average electricity usage. The Tidy Street residents' use was charted with a yellow line and stars, so residents could see how they stacked up to the rest of town. more

Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting Distracted From The Real Issues Of ADHD

While strongly supporting behavioral therapy for young children with ADHD, the American Academy of Pediatrics authors make clear to note that good behavior therapy is hard to find. In fact, they write, finding good mental health care at all is hard to find. In many parts of the country, they add, you can’t find any specialized mental health care for kids at all. And if you can, good luck getting insurers to pay for it – especially critically important parts, like detailed psychoeducational evaluations by psychologists, which can help prevent false diagnoses of ADHD. more

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sustainable Business Forum: What Is Behavior-Based Safety?

To continue making progress in safety management, leaders turned to psychology to better understand human behaviour. During this time the dominant paradigm of psychology was Behaviourism and specifically operant conditioning. Operant conditioning stipulates that learning occurs over time as a function of the positive and negative reinforcement of specific behaviours. Through operant conditioning, people make associations between a behaviour and its consequences, either positive or negative. Behavioural Based Safety (BBS), based on the principles of operant conditioning developed by prominent psychologist B.F. Skinner, emerged as these principles were applied to the workplace. more

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Are You Addicted To Achievements?

Gaming in its wide variety of forms can provide virtual satisfaction for these needs too. Achievements are one of these ways - an additional method by which games cater for our compulsive drive to improve and better ourselves...The view of gamers and developers alike on this most fundamental aspect of gaming has altered over the last three decades. In a way, the difference is staggeringly simple; somebody somewhere took the word "achievement" and pluralised it. Now, instead of being presented with a high score or a series of credits at the end of a game, achievements are scattered like breadcrumbs throughout a gamer's experience. The new gaming model of achievements bears some resemblance to experiments in psychological conditioning undertaken in the 1950's, the most famous of which are B.F. Skinner's experiments into "operant" conditioning. more

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting The Best Teaching Tools To Schools

Back then, in the early '70s, Siegfried Engelmann led a government-sponsored investigation called Project Follow Through. It compared nine teaching methods and tracked their results among 75,000 children from kindergarten through third grade. It found that the Direct Instruction (DI) method of teaching reading — based on sounding out words rather than learning them whole (phonics), and on a tightly scripted format emphasizing repetition and student participation — was vastly more effective than any of the others. And for poor kids. Including black ones...Decade after decade, DI has continued to kick serious butt all across this great land. Houston, Baltimore, Milwaukee — you name it; I am unaware of anywhere it hasn't worked, and it's hard to even choose one example as a demonstration. more

Using “The Power of Small Wins” to Reduce New Hire Employee Turnover

It’s fairly easy to grasp the concept of the power of small wins; Snowfly Incentives founder Brooks Mitchell, Ph.D. describes it as “rewarding the daily homework” in his paper New Ways To Curb Employee Tardiness, Absenteeism and Turnover by Using Employee Selection and Online Games...The simple answer is to amplify the incentive reward for every positive event for newly hired agents until they have accepted the fact that the day is usually going to be filled with negatives and frequent rejections. An “event” does not need to be a sale; it could be simply asking for the sale or some precedent activity. more

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do Programs That Pay People To Lose Weight Really Work?

What if someone would pay you to lose weight? Not a token amount from your meddling fitness freak brother-in-law, but serious cash, say $10,000? Would you try it? But what if you had to put some skin in the game, 60 of your hard-earned dollars for the chance to win that $10,000 or smaller prizes of $5,000 and $3,000?And what if you had to do this at the office, with a team of co-workers who would monitor your progress, or lack thereof, and whose chances at a payoff depended on you?...As you might have guessed, such elaborate wagers are underway at companies across the country, perhaps the most innovative variation in the growing trend of offering overweight Americans — and those with other unhealthful habits, such as smoking and drug use — financial incentives to change. Such experiments live at the nexus of cost-benefit analysis, behavioral psychology and the obesity crisis. more

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monkeys Use a Brain-Controlled Virtual Hand To "Feel" Virtual Objects

An international team of researchers has developed a brain implant that enables monkeys to examine virtual objects by means of a virtual arm controlled by their brain...In a task involving a choice between two visually identical objects, the monkeys were able to distinguish between a reward-producing object, which was associated with an electrical stimulation when 'touched', and an object that produced neither electrical stimulation nor a treat. This shows that the brain can decode information about the sense of touch without any stimulation of the animal's skin, says Nicolelis. His team reports their results today in Nature. more

The Latest Issue Of Behavior Modification Is Now Available

The latest issue of Behavior Modification is now available. Behavior Modification (BMO) presents insightful research, reports, and reviews on applied behavior modification. Each issue offers successful assessment and modification techniques applicable to problems in psychiatric, clinical, educational, and rehabilitative settings, as well as treatment manuals and program descriptions. Practical features help you follow the process of clinical psychological research and to apply it to behavior modification interventions.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Current Directions in Behavioral Science Is On Hiatus

Current Directions in Behavioral Science is on hiatus for the week of October 10th through October 14th.  Daily posts will resume on Monday, October, 17th.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Here, There, Everywhere: Reward And Punishment "Processing" Is Widespread In The Human Brain

Understanding the neural basis of reinforcement and punishment processing is of paramount importance to cognitive neuroscience," explains primary study author Dr. Timothy Vickery from the Department of Psychology at Yale University. "Most perceptual and cognitive functions are served by discrete brain structures, and thus the focus in the reward literature has been on understanding specialized circuits that process reward, such as the basal ganglia. In our study, we tested whether signals related to decision outcomes, encompassing both reinforcement and punishment, may be represented more extensively beyond the traditional reward- and penalty-processing areas that have been described." more

B. F. Skinner: Hefferline Notes And The William James Lectures

The B.F. Skinner Foundation, the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, and David Palmer announce that the publication of searchable .pdf documents of the Hefferline Notes and Verbal Behavior: William James Lectures. The Hefferline Notes were taken by Ralph Hefferline in the summer of 1947 while attending B. F. Skinner's six week lecture on verbal behavior at Columibia University. The William James Lectures was the unpublished manuscript from Skinner's lectures on verbal behavior in 1948 at Harvard University. The searchable manuscripts were created by David Palmer and funded by Edward Anderson through the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. They are available from the B. F. Skinner Foundation and the Cambridge Center's websites. more

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Founded In Behaviorism: Celebrating 50 Years of Psychology At Wesleyan University

From the very beginning, Illinois Wesleyan’s department was aligned firmly in the field of science. “We feel our methodology fits in with the natural sciences, focusing on the principles of scientific research design,” said Williams, who teaches courses in neuroscience. That belief stems directly from the founding members of the Psychology Department and its first chair, Roger Ulrich. “Ulrich was a Skinnerian,” said Schnaitter, referring to the work of B.F. Skinner, a famed behavioral psychologist. “He believed psychology is the science of the behavior of organisms...Schnaitter came to Illinois Wesleyan in 1969. By that time, all three of the original members of the Psychology Department had left for other schools, but the concept of Skinnerianism prevailed, he said. “The roots set by Ulrich and his behaviorist colleagues ran very deep, and the curriculum in psychology was all behavior analysis,” he said. “It was not your typical psychology program with theories of personality, abnormal psychology and counseling psych – none of those things were taught here.” more

Behavioral Therapies Work for Weight Loss

Although health-outcome data are sparse, behavioral interventions are effective in yielding clinically meaningful weight loss in overweight and obese individuals, according to a study published in the Oct. 4 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. more

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A Mouse Model for Autism?

UCLA scientists have created a mouse model for autism that opens a window into the biological mechanisms that underlie the disorder and offers a promising way to test new treatment approaches. Published in the Sept. 30 edition of Cell, the research found that autistic mice display remarkably similar symptoms and behavior as children and adults on the autism spectrum. The animals also responded well to an FDA-approved drug prescribed to autism patients to treat repetitive behaviors often associated with the disorder..."[The researchers] developed a mouse model to observe how a gene variant commonly linked to human autism reveals itself in mice." more

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Inferring Emotion From Facial Expressions: Context Is Everything

“Humans are exquisitely sensitive to context, and that can very dramatically shape what is seen in a face,” says psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard School of Medicine. “Strip away the context, and it is difficult to accurately perceive emotion in a face.” That is the argument of a new paper by Barrett, her graduate student Maria Gendron, and Batja Mesquita of the University of Leuven in Belgium. It appears in October’s Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
The paper—reviewing a handful of hundreds of studies supporting the authors’ position, says Barrett—refutes the contention that there are six to 10 biologically basic emotions, each encoded in a particular facial arrangement, which can be read easily in an image of a disembodied face by anyone, anywhere. more

Monday, October 03, 2011

Latest Issue of The Current Repertoire Now Available Online

The latest issue of The Current Repertoire (Vol 27, #3, Fall 2011) is now available at the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies website. The Current Repertoire is the newsletter of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies and is published 3 times per year.