Behavior mod

[From Rick Marken (951213.0800)]


What a crock! Behavior modification has about as much to do with teaching
people how to control their perceptions as PCT has to do with explaining how
behavior is selected by reinforcers.

Bill Powers (951213.0600 MST) --

I think you're speaking hypothetically, extrapolating from your
understanding of how behavior mod is _supposed_ to work to the actual
practices of behavior modifiers.

Yes. That's why I called behavior mod a "caricature".

I know that what most behavior modifiers (as people) actually do is a lot
nicer than what their theory recommends that they do. Lovaas, for example,
preached a "behavior mod" approach to dealing with autisitic children; but
what he actually did with these kids was a lot more humane than what his
theory said should be done (as I've said before, the one thing I remember
about Lovaas was his delightfully accented recommdation that the best way to
deal with kids was to "load 'em up with [presumably non-contingent)] love";
he's right but what's that got to do with behavior mod?). My mother, who
still preaches the "golden rule" (the one with the gold rules) as the best
basis for dealing with children, is actually a very kind, generous and loving
in her real world dealings with children.

The problem with behavior modification is what it _says_ about how to deal
with people; the fact that the people who practice "behavior mod" are
generally too decent to actually _do_ what behavior mod texts _say_ to do
doesn't make behavior mod any better in my eyes. Similarly, the fact that
some of the people who practice "PCT therapy" might be manipulative, power
hungry assholes won't make PCT any worse in my eyes.

I believe that an accurate theory of human nature (like PCT) can help people
of good will deal with themselves and others more effectively. It has been
argued that such a theory might also help people of bad will hurt (control,
manipulate) others more effectively, also. I disagree with the latter; people
of bad will already know the most effective ways to hurt, control and
manipulate others -- all you have to do is be willing to use them.



[From Bruce Abbott (951213.1730 EST)]

Rick Marken (951212.2245) --

Bruce Abbott (951212.1710 EST)

"Behavior modification" aimed toward teaching what in PCT would
be termed "ways to achieve control over a perception," and how to
discriminate what methods will work (while producing less conflict
with others) under what circumstances.

What a crock! Behavior modification has about as much to do with
teaching people how to control their perceptions as PCT has to do with
explaining how behavior is selected by reinforcers.

A major part of b-mod is teaching people to discriminate along appropriate
demensions, and to vary their behavior in appropriate ways accordingly so as
to minimize conflict, eliminate self-defeating actions, deal effectively
with the environment and with others, and so on. The practice isn't framed
in terms of control, but the result of successful training is better
control, and control exercised in ways that tend to be less likely to
produce conflict with others. You think behavior modification is all about
using force to get people to behave as the behavior analyst wishes, but you
are dead wrong about that.

Perhaps after you've finished explaining the nuances of the practice of
behavior modification for all of us here on CSG-L, we can invite some
behavior analysts in to give us their expert opinion of PCT. Their
expertise in control theory must be fairly close to your level of expertise
in b-mod, which seems indeed to have come from watching Clockwork Orange, or
was it One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? B-mod has in fact gotten a bad rap
from people like yourself, who have not taken the trouble to learn much
about it and, hearing of examples of its misuse, believe it is nothing more
than the scientifically-legitimized practice of coercion.

I have been trying for over a year to suggest experimental manipulations
that should have different effects according to reinforcement and
perceptual control theory. Your contribution to this process has been
to claim that none of these experimental manipulations can discriminate
between these theories; and you never suggest experimental manipulations
that _can_ discriminate between them.

That is not my interest.

It is really difficult for me to see how you have been working toward the
end of trying to "think of experimental manipulations that should have
different effects according to each theory". Does your agreement with
Bill mean that you are going to start making your work towards this end
more apparent? Can you think of an experimental manipulation for which
reinforcement and PCT make different predictions?

If you go back and read what Bill said (to which I was agreeing), you will
see that he was speaking of developing and testing competing structural
models that would account for the observations. Reinforcement theory
provides descriptive, not structural models of behavior and therefore does
not fall within the parameters of this proposal. This business of finding
some crucial experiment to distinguish between PCT and reinforcement theory
is your crusade, not mine, and I'll thank you to leave me out of it. I
don't want to prove that reinforcement theory is wrong, I want to explain
behavior. If I do that well enough, reinforcement theory will simply become



[FROM: Dennis Delprato (951214)]

"Resistance is bound to occur whenever one tries to exert
influence on somebody else. Otherwise therapy would be a
simple job...." (Kwee, G. T., & Lazarus, A. A. 1986 Mutimodal
therapy: The cognitive behavioural tradition and beyond. In
W. Dryden & W. L. Golden, Eds., Cognitive-behavioural
approaches to psychotherapy. London: Harper & Row, p. 333)

Kwee and Lazarus's insight proves nothing. However, their
fundamental postulates cannot be based on lineal mechanism
(They, in fact, do assert, "We discard linear causality as
an explanatory concept in favour of _circular causality_.),
and it appears they may be receptive to an account of
behavior that explains why "resistance is bound to occur..."
(Lazarus has, at least, adopted "general systems theory"
as a unifying framework).