Diminishing Leg Shaking Behaviour Psychology Essay

1903 words (8 pages) Essay in Psychology

5/12/16 Psychology Reference this

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Behaviour modification is defined as the following: it involves the systematic application of learning principles and techniques to assess and improve individuals covert and overt behaviours in order to enhance their daily functioning” (Martin & Pear, 2011). Basically, behaviour modification is founded on the concepts of operant conditioning. It is a technique to improve an individual’s behavior by changing the way a person acts to a particular situation or stimuli using positive and negative reinforcement. In result, it replaces an undesirable behavior to a more desirable behavior.

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There are rules to follow and that are critical when planning and engaging in a behaviour modification program. These rules includes the rules of positive and negative reinforcement, rules of unconditioned and conditioned reinforcement, the rules of extinction, the rules of schedules of reinforcement the rules of fading, and the rule of shaping (Martin & Pear, 2011). A schedule of reinforcement is a program that determines how and when the occurrence of a response will be followed by a reinforcer. The delivery of a reinforcer could depend on the occurrence of a certain number of responses, the passage of time, the presence of certain stimuli, the occurrence of other responses of the animal, or any number of other things. There are different schedules of reinforcement, I will discuss very briefly about the important ones that I will implement in my program. One of the different schedules of reinforcement are the schedules of intermittent reinforcement. Another is ratio schedule which is defined as that reinforcement depends only on the number of responses the organism has performed. Reinforcement that depends on only some of the time are said to involve partial or intermittent reinforcement. In interval schedules, responses are reinforced only if the responses occur after a certain amount of time has passed. In fixed interval schedule (abbreviated FI), the set time is constant from one occasion to the next. With a variable interval schedule (abbreviated VI), responses are reinforced if they occur after a variable interval since the beginning of the schedule cycle.

For this behaviour modification program, I have chosen to decrease and control my leg-shaking behaviour. The operational definition of leg-shaking is that for this program, I tested the effect of leg-shaking on my performance during the times when I was sitting down. I needed to know exactly what sort of leg-shaking behaviour I was performing and how I measured it. I needed to know what type of performance I am suggesting that leg-shaking behaviour affected, and how I measured that. Furthermore, I needed to know the underlying causes and triggers of my leg-shaking behaviour.

How I Selected My Target Behaviour and Why it’s Appropriate for this Assignment

Two other behaviours I was considering working on, but decided to work on my leg-shaking behavior instead were to increase my piano playing practice, and to exercise more. They were appropriate for the assignment, but they were not realistic for me to work on this semester. I am rarely home, therefore the probability of cooking and healthier food was very slim during the time. However, the probability of exercising during the time was moderately likely to occur, but I did not perceive this behaviour to be as vital to change as my leg-shaking behavior. I wanted to work to change a behaviour that is not only affecting me and others, but that it is also more simple and more doable to work on during the past months. Moreover, these other two behaviors are both common behaviour that I believe most people use for a project similar to this behaviour modification program.

Controlling Antecedents of Pre-Program Behaviour

The root of my habit most likely started and had to do with a social situation I was facing when I was very young. I was extremely shy. I had social anxiety. My fear of being in any social situations or interactions made me so nervous that it could be the main trigger of my shaking legs.

Pre-Program Behaviour Level

In this section, I will describe how I observed my behaviour. During the process of this observation, I found that I had automatic thoughts that momentarily flash through my mind. Here my task was to replace these automatic thoughts or bad thinking habits with good thinking habits. By doing so, I would create new thoughts that became my new automatic thoughts. These thoughts came from my feelings of anxiety, particularly in social situation or stressed situation. I counted to keep anxiety in check so that it would not encourage my old automatic negative thoughts. The reason is that my automatic thoughts affects the way I see myself in a significant way in situation. If I did not change my thinking, my old automatic thoughts will continue to perpetuate my leg-shaking behaviour.

Controlling Consequences of Pre-Program Behaviour

Not controlling my leg- shaking behaviour is rewarded with being able to only concentrate while studying or listening to lectures or doing other things when sitting down. This allows me to not think about monitoring my leg-shaking constantly and to freely express my inner feelings of anxiety by letting my subconscious behaviour takes over. By detaching myself from observing and being mindless of my leg-shaking behaviour elicited by feelings of anxiety and overgeneralizing. In psychological terms this process is called positive reinforcement for a behaviour such as leg-shaking. I shake my leg and in return get rewarded by getting away with behaving any way I want when I am feeling anxious, stressed, or nervous. The way positive reinforcement works is that once I get rewarded for my leg-shaking behaviour I am more likely to do it again.

My Self-Modification Program

For my self-modification program, since I planned on changing my thinking patterns in order to prevent me at least from shaking my legs too often, then I rewarded myself with a sensible reward. The sensible reward was that once I have controlled my leg-shaking behavior, I could listen to music. I had to earn a privilege to be able to listen to a song or songs longer as listening to music is very rewarding for me.

I kept track of minutes on a sheet. I started with two hours of listening to music per day. I normally did not listen to 2 hours of music straight, but this was doable. I cannot really hear the music without headphone so I asked one of my family members to take away my headphone from me for the day and then give it back to me sometime after 10 at night. I lost a minute of listening to music when I failed to control my leg-shaking behaviour. At the end of the day, I listened to the amount of time I have earned to listen to music provided that I have any minutes left. Whenever I got sidetracked by my work and other distractions, then for every leg-shaking behaviour I do, I subtracted one minute of listening to music.

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In addition to this note, l laid out a plan, including making notes of the crucial moments that I was less likely and most likely to shake my legs unconsciously on account of feeling anxious, stressed, or nervous. I prepared for my crucial moments by turning to helpful sources of influence, a friend and a family member. Then I planned on beginning deliberate practice by placing myself to a tempting situation. In short, my goal was to experience the desire but not to give in shaking my leg to express my feelings of anxiety outwardly.

My Program in Action

This is the part when I employed deliberate practice especially practice for crucial moments. I broke the steps into small pieces, and practice each step in short intervals. I also got immediate feedback at times against a clear standard, and evaluated my progress. I learned to be prepare for setbacks and also was prepared for them.

Evaluation of My Program

Referring to the level of the behaviour pre-program and during the program (see Figure 1 in the Appendix), my attempt to decrease my tendency to shake my leg did not work in the beginning of the program due to the effects of delay of punishment. When it came to the use of punishment in the program, the important component in the punishment is the interval between the instrumental behaviour and the aversive stimulation. I found that the increase in the delay of punishment results in less suppression of behaviour. Such delays made punishment totally ineffective in modifying the undesired behaviour.

Ending the Program; Future Plans

Although I am done with the behaviour modification program, I plan on continuing to manage my leg-shaking behaviour, which, again, happens when I get anxious. I will try to slowly stop myself from depending on the program to keep my leg-shaking behaviour under control. I will keep a long-term perspective to improve my behaviour and to improve myself. I plan on practising not only self control, but self-care as I tend to encounter stress or period of anxiety in the face of difficult situations such as speaking up in class as I am shy. I will help myself feel at ease during periods of stress by attempting to use what I learned from the behaviour techniques and exercises this semester.

Even though I will not depend on the exercises and techniques I have applied in my program, I believe I still need regular exposure to anxiety-provoking situations in order to stay in condition. I believe this will help me over the long term to keep myself habituated to the experiences that I learned from in situations I found were and still are a little anxiety-provoking.

Discussion and Conclusion

What I learned from this experience was that my obsessive thoughts and compulsive leg-shaking behaviour did not make sense. These thinking patterns that I fell into when I am nervous, stressed, sad, or depressed were generally very believable, quite persuasive, and negative, and they made my life more difficult than they needed to be. Even though I did not fully believe my obsessive thoughts, I found that I frequently engaged in my leg-shaking behaviour to get the obsessive thoughts to stop. I overestimated the probability of risk that if something could go wrong, it will go wrong. I am guilty of overgeneralizing things. So I held back many times from putting myself in certain situation that meant no harm to me or anyone, and naturally I slipped into my leg-shaking behaviour.

When I triggered one of my old automatic thoughts, I corrected it with the positive one so that these positive thoughts became my new automatic thoughts. Even though I am done with this behavioural modification program for the course, I still need to thoroughly weave this fact into my memory whenever my leg-shaking behaviour strikes. This way, I will be able to weave this fact into my conscious control to pull the plug on my tendency to worry and to overgeneralize which triggers leg-shaking behaviour. I know that the more I practice this new behaviour, the more likely I will do it in the future so that I do not return to my former state of leg-shaking behaviour.

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