Sample Psychology Coursework Paper on Applied Behavior Analysis

Delay Time Phase

The reinforcement a desirable outcome in response to administered stimulus should be immediate. The lag time phase should not exceed 60 seconds. Delayed reinforcer presentation/ administration could end up reinforcing other behaviors contracted by the subject during the delay. The delay could also shepherd the subject into reinforcing the behavior closest to the presentation of the treat/ reinforcer (Wolf, 1978). The undesirable behavior’s frequency could increase due to the novel instance of reinforcement, which could in fact be inherent to the subject. Eventually, the reinforcer has little or no effect on the subject’s behavior.

Reinforcer Assessments

The subject is introduced to a wide spectrum of reinforcers. The reinforcer settled upon by the subject is noted. The choice of the treatment could be forced or selected by the subject. The choice of a treat to be used is based entirely on how badly the subject desires the reinforcer (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). The automaticity of the reinforcer and the subject-reinforcer bond makes the subject unable to willfully alter their attitude towards the reinforcer. Wolf notes that all behaviors are prone to reinforcement (1978) and that the belying motivation for indiscriminate behavioral conformity to stimuli is the sequential relationship between the outcome and the consequence (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007).

Environmental Enrichment

Change in the quality of the environment does not guarantee better productivity. Rather it requires a collision of a number of reinforcers some of which have to be strategic contingent by design. Reinforcement should however be distinguished from bribery. Reinforcement is given after a response while a bribe is given to influence a certain outcome in a subject (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). Contingency reinforcers are only applicable after the desired response is achieved and could also reinforce the undesirable outcome. Therefore to mitigate the change in productivity due to altered environmental conditions the quantity of reinforcers has to be altered promptly and commensurate with the incremental frequency of the desired response by the subjects.

Behavior Acquisition is Procedural

There are no direct causes of behavior (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). Behavior is acquired through a series of exposures to various situations and reinforcement of certain responses. Therefore behavior is neither a circular concept nor a ‘thing.’ The medico-psychological interpretation of behavioral cues fails to expose the motivating factors or reinforcers that influence a particular behavior. Their judgment ends at establishing the effect of reinforcement as the cause of behavior (Wolf, 1978). Alternately the behavioral model approach interrogates the actual factors that influence behavior including the environment and reinforcers used on the subjects, passively and purposely. Behavior, therefore, qualifies as a process and not an outcome.


Cooper, J. O., Heron , E. T., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied bahavior analysis. Columbus,      Ohio: Pearson/ Merill-Prentice Hall.

Wolf, M. M. (1978). Social validity: The case for subjective measurement or how applied            bahavior analysis is finding its heart. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 11 (2),         203-214.