PCT Application

[From Rick Marken (950823.2230) --

Dennis Delprato (950823) --

There are three questions concerning what Ed is doing:

1. What are the procedures or operations?

2. What is the justification for the procedures? How do they follow
from PCT?

3.... "Are we getting an accurate description of the procedures?"

Yes. I think these are excellent questions about any application of PCT.

the little appreciated (anywhere) "constructional approach," first
offered by Goldiamond is quite close to much of what one might
suggest procedurally from a PCT viewpoint.

This sounds interesting, Dennis. Could you describe the "constructional
approach" to behavior modification and explain how it is close to what
one might do based on PCT?

Furthermore, how does one eliminate contingencies?

Some consequence is always contingent on some action. You can't
eliminate contingencies from behavior. The problem with behavior
modification (from my point of view) is that one person imposes a
particular contingency (that would not exist if the person were not
there to enforce it) in order to control the behavior of another person.
For example, I might decide that the only way you can produce dessert
is by eating your spinach first; I make dessert contingent on you eating
spinach. This creates a problem if you don't want to eat spinach and
you can see that I am creating the requirement that you do so in order
to get the dessert. In that case you might do what you can to get around
the contingency -- and I will perceive you as a "behavior problem".

I find that a major difficulty of getting PCT on line in terms of clinical
procedures is the assumption that we need to teach people how to
control perceptions but that we should not focus on overt behavior
because overt behavior is a byproduct of control of perception. (Crude
behavior modification remains attractive to many because it appears
to confront directly that which is most obvious, troublesome, and
worthwhile--depending on the circumstances: observable behavior.)

What you have stated is right on target, Dennis. Behavior modification
is attractive precisely because it "appears to confront directly that
which is most obvious, troublesome, and worthwhile...observable
behavior". What I, as a control system, care about is what I perceive;
and among the things I perceive are behaviors -- actions and the
intended and unintended consequences of those actions.

When what I perceive doesn't match my reference for that perception
then I do what I can to correct the error; behavior modification is what
people have always done to control their perceptions of the behavior of other
people. As Hans Blom mentioned, people (myself included) can't help trying
to do behavior modification because people control their perceptions and
the behavior of other people is a perception.

PCT doesn't say that behavior modification is wrong or ineffective; it
just says that when you try to modify the behavior of a living organisn
you are trying to modify the behavior of another behavior modifier.
As Bill Powers mentioned, this simply means that you have to take
into account the fact that the other behavior modifier is trying to
control its perceptions too; you can only control the aspects of a
behavior modifier's behavior that the behavior modifier itself is not
(at the moment at least) controlling. People who don't want to be
bothered with worrying about what another behavior modifier wants
are likely to find the tenets of behavior modification far more attractive
than those of PCT.

Ed Ford (950823.evening) --

I suggest you spend a few days with us, sitting in the classrooms,
watching us work with kids,

I'd love to. Maybe I can get a chance to do this a couple days before the
meeting next year.

Perhaps your difficulty is in moving from a computer to living
control systems.

No. My only difficulty is with how you describe some aspects of your
program. I KNOW that your program has been a great success. I want
to determine the reasons for that success so that other people can
duplicate it And, as Bill said, if we can find the reasons why the
program has been as successful as it has, then perhaps we can find ways
to make the program even better. Don't you think that it MIGHT be
possible to improve the program? Isn't the possibility of improvement
one reason for even discussing applications based on PCT?

Certainly one reason for the success of your program is that you do
things like this:

[I'm] helping them think through how they're going to achieve their
own individual goals within the prevailing standards or rules that
exist in the environment in which they find themselves.

This sounds a LOT better (to me) than saying that you are "teaching the
rules". As you said in your post, the kids already know the rules; their
problem is figuring out how to deal with those rules and still get what they
want. Your program apparently allows them to do this and you deserve
kudos for developing such a program. I would just likee to discuss
(and, if possible, see for myself) why the program works (from a PCT
perspective).

Best

Rick

[FROM: Dennis Delprato (950824)]

Dennis Delprato 950823

Rick Marken 950823.2230

the little appreciated (anywhere) "constructional approach," first
offered by Goldiamond is quite close to much of what one might
suggest procedurally from a PCT viewpoint.

This sounds interesting, Dennis. Could you describe the "constructional
approach" to behavior modification and explain how it is close to what
one might do based on PCT?

AVOID aversive and coercive practices and procedures.

AVOID contrived rewards such as tokens, points, praise, and so on.

DO NOT USE eliminative procedures that focus on _eliminating_
  problem behaviors. These include reinforcing non-occurrences
  of behaviors, extinction, punishment, response cost, aversive
  conditioning.

Work collaboratively with identified clients.

Negotiate.

FIND OUT WHAT THE CLIENT WANTS AND HELP THEM GET IT IN
  WAYS THAT ARE ETHICAL AND LEGAL.

ยทยทยท

____________________________
Perhaps you can now understand why, despite being around for
20 years in the behavioral literature, the constructional
approach is not taken as "state of the art."

I. Goldiamond, who introduced the constructional approach, has
been one of a less-than-handful of people in behavior therapy who
have forthrightly addressed the coercion problem. Another is Murray
Sidman, who published "Coercion and Its Fallout" a few years ago.
Sidman spent virtually all of his book detailing the fallout of
coercive social and interpersonal practices. Not having studied
PCT, Sidman is unable to (a) offer a sound principle for the basis
of fallout from coercion and (b) propose principles for practice
that would minimize coercion and its fallout. I tried to address
a & b in a little paper entitled "Beyond Murray Sidman's _Coercion
and Its Fallout_" that recently appeared in the _Psychological
Record_ (Summer, 1995 issue, I believe). The idea was to offer
PCT as a natural extension of Sidman's thesis. However, because
much of what I said in attempting to clarify how PCT deals with
coercion was cut, I doubt if many readers not familiar with PCT
will follow the argument.

Dennis Delprato
psy_delprato@emuvax.emich.edu