Essay on Punishment as a Form of Behaviour Modification

2373 Words Nov 21st, 2005 10 Pages
Introduction
Punishment is a process through which "the consequence of a response decreases the likelihood that the response will recur" (Gray, 2002, pp.115). Further, punishment can be seen as an effort to decrease the response rate to stimuli by either removing a desired stimulus or presenting one which is undesired (Gray, 2002). Recent studies suggest that punishment can be an effective method of behaviour modification. However, as reported in Lerman and Vorndran (2002), there are a number of limitations to punishment as an intervention and subsequent negative side effects. For this reason, certain principles upon which the implementation of a successful punishment is dependent must be adhered to. In accordance to these findings, this
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A study reported by Tyler (1965, cited in Blackham & Silberman, 1971) revolved around conditioning the behaviour of a group of delinquent juvenile boys that had been exhibiting undesirable actions around a pool table (e.g. throwing cue balls). The experiment was comprised of three phases. In the first phase the boys were sent to a time-out room for fifteen minutes of solitary confinement upon misbehaving. The given explanation was; "You fouled up." During phase two, no punishment was implemented and the effects of a simple verbal reprimand were observed. As a result, misbehaviour quickly returned and the punishment was reinforced. In phase three, with the time-out consequence resumed, cumulative records of the undesirable actions decreased. The conclusion determined that a swift, brief period of time-out was a successful method in modifying behaviour.
Response-cost is another punishment technique which has been noted for its success. This is a negative punishment whereby a reinforcer, often points or money, is removed upon the occurrence of the targeted behaviour (Lieberman, 2000). Reynolds and Kelley (1997, cited in Lieberman, 2000) reported effective treatment of aggressive behaviour with the use of response-cost. This study involved four preschool children that were exhibiting highly aggressive traits. One subject in particular, Randy, responded very well to this method of punishment. To control Randy's behaviour, a chart was set up in his classroom…

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