Image for Behavior modification
Behavior modification

Related Terms

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Background

  • Behavior modification includes the use of basic learning techniques, such as positive reinforcement, to alter human behavior. Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by a pleasant incentive or reward that increases the frequency of performing that particular behavior.
  • Behavior modification is used today as an important part of changing health-related behavior, such as quitting smoking or learning to follow instructions for insulin medication. Another example might be a person who suffered from a heart attack and needs to increase their exercise level while avoiding high fat and high cholesterol foods.
  • The different behavioral therapies may have their origins in one of two psychological learning processes: classical or operant conditioning. Classical conditioning (sometimes called Pavlovian conditioning, respondent conditioning, or alpha-conditioning) focuses on reflexive (reactive) behavior or involuntary (instinctive) behavior. Any reflex can be conditioned to respond to a formerly neutral stimulus (anything that provokes behavior). Conditioned stimuli are associated psychologically with emotions or feelings such as anticipation, satisfaction (both immediate and prolonged), and fear. In classical conditioning, when the unconditioned stimulus is repeatedly or strongly paired with a neutral stimulus, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus and elicits a conditioned response. For instance, a person may set an alarm to go off at the times that they need to take insulin. Eventually, the alarm will no longer be necessary, and the person will remember to watch a clock for the times that insulin needs to be taken.
  • In human psychology, implications for therapies and treatments using classical conditioning differ from operant conditioning. Therapies associated with classical conditioning are aversion therapy, flooding, systematic desensitization, and implosion therapy. Classical conditioning is short-term, usually requiring less time with therapists and less effort from patients, which is unlike more introspective therapies that explore emotions and motivations. Classical conditioning is based on a repetitive behavior system and does not require personal introspection. Repetitive behavior is an action which is performed over and over again.
  • Further content available for subscribers only.

Technique

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Theory/Evidence

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Safety

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Author Information

  • Content available for subscribers only.

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  • Content available for subscribers only.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.