Behavioral procedures are established protocols used to observe, measure, and modify the behavior of individuals or groups. Such procedures may involve the use of a variety of techniques, such as positive reinforcement, stimulus control, and shaping. This article provides an overview of the behavioral procedure, including its application in a variety of settings and the research evidence supporting its use.
Behavioral procedures involve the application of principles of behavioral psychology in order to modify behavior. These principles include reinforcement, punishment, stimulus control, and shaping. In reinforcement, a behavior that is followed by a reward (positive reinforcement) or consequence (negative reinforcement) is more likely to be repeated. In punishment, a behavior that is followed by an aversive consequence is less likely to be repeated. Stimulus control involves manipulating the environment to increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior occurring. Finally, shaping involves gradually changing a behavior over time by rewarding successive approximations of the desired behavior.
Behavioral procedures have been widely used in a variety of settings. In education, they have been used to modify student behavior in classrooms, as well as to teach new skills. In healthcare, they have been used to modify health-related behaviors, such as smoking cessation and medication compliance. In business, they have been used to modify employee behavior and increase productivity. In criminal justice, they have been used to reduce recidivism and promote pro-social behavior.
The effectiveness of behavioral procedures has been supported by research. For example, a meta-analysis of over 200 studies found that behavioral procedures were highly effective in reducing challenging behaviors in children with autism (Kern, Dunlap, Clarke, & Childs, 2015). In addition, a meta-analysis of over 150 studies found that behavioral procedures were effective in increasing academic achievement in students (Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996). Finally, a meta-analysis of over 100 studies found that behavioral procedures were effective in reducing recidivism in adult offenders (Lipsey & Wilson, 1998).
Overall, behavioral procedures are established protocols used to observe, measure, and modify behavior. They involve the application of principles of behavioral psychology, such as reinforcement, punishment, and stimulus control. Behavioral procedures have been widely used in a variety of settings, such as education, healthcare, business, and criminal justice. The effectiveness of behavioral procedures has been supported by research, with meta-analyses demonstrating their effectiveness in reducing challenging behaviors, increasing academic achievement, and reducing recidivism.
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Kern, L., Dunlap, G., Clarke, S., & Childs, K. E. (2015). A meta-analysis of single-subject research to identify evidence-based practices for students with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(7), 1951–1966. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2268-y
Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (1998). Effective intervention for serious juvenile offenders: A synthesis of research. In R. Loeber & D. Farrington (Eds.), Serious and violent juvenile offenders: Risk factors and successful interventions (pp. 87–105). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.