PSYC 281 – Behaviour Modification Assignment

Students will be responsible for constructing a behaviour modification program in which you
will modify/change some type of behaviour using the various theories discussed in class. You can
design this program with animal or human subjects and need not worry about ethical guidelines
as you WON’T be conducting the program. Alter the behaviour of your cat or boyfriend/
girlfriend. Be creative and have fun with the assignment. Chances are if you enjoy creating and
writing it I will enjoy reading it.

Basic Instructions:
Although this behavioural assignment does not require any additional information from peer-
reviewed publications or books you are required to include the information set out below and
base it on what you have learned throughout the term, both in lecture and from the textbook.

1. The Problem/Behaviour: You will start with the description of the problem behaviour or the
behaviour that you will be modifying. The description should include details of the behaviour, if
it is problematic and what the problem actually is. You will also need to provide a description of
the baseline occurrence of this behaviour and to what extent you would like to reduce the
occurrence of the behaviour. This section should be one or two paragraphs.

2. Methods: Using information from class the textbook, identify and describe the methods
you’re using to modify the behaviour. You need to include the following three pieces of
information in your methodology (as they apply). This section should be two to three paragraphs.

a. Classical and/or Operant Procedures: You will be using some of the procedures/
methods that we discussed in class (and that are described in the text). Make sure that
you are documenting your procedures and using the terminology correctly. You will
also need to ensure that your reinforcers or conditional and unconditional stimuli are
powerful enough and appropriate for the situation.

b. Theoretical Models: You need to link your modification to at least one behaviourist
theory discussed in class or in the textbook. For some modifications it will simply be
classical or operant conditioning, but for other modifications there will be specific
models that apply. For example, if you’re doing a self-control program you will need to
discuss the Ainsley-Rachlin model. If you’re addressing choice behaviour, you will
likely discuss Matching or Melioration theories.

c. Constraints: Every species and every individual has its limitations so you need to
identify those constraints and explain how you will accommodate them in your program.
For example, if you’re dealing with a dog who eats your shoes you need to recognize
that chewing behaviour is harder for some breeds to control.


Format Instructions:
1. Electronic copies will be uploaded within the meskanas system. These must be loaded as pdf

files only.
2. Please use 12 point Times / Times New Roman font, double-spaced throughout the paper. The

report will be no longer than two pages.
3. Number the pages of your paper. Use APA formatting for the various title, heading and

subheadings within the assignment.

1. ASK QUESTIONS. If you are unclear on these instructions, on what constitutes a good topic,

or anything related to the assignment come and see me. We can chat about your ideas and get
you on the right track.

2. Start early. If something intrigues you or you find a particular topic or behaviour interesting
start jotting down ideas early.

3. Know your material. Carefully read the theories and methods you will use in your assignment
and decide how the information can be most logically organized.

4. Be concise and avoid jargon. Write in your own words and show me that you understand and
can use the theories and methods you have chosen.

5. POLISH. Get some feedback from your peers. Hand your outline of the project to one of your
classmates or friends and ask them what they think. If it makes no sense, or if they have some
insight that would really make your plan better, you have the opportunity to improve your
project before it gets graded. Don’t be self-conscious about your writing. Part of becoming a
good writer is seeking and using constructive criticism.

6. AGAIN, ASK QUESTIONS. If you are unclear on these instructions, on what constitutes a
good topic, or anything related to the report come and see me.


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