ABA technical concepts covered in this podcast: Behaviour momentum; empiricism; determinism; philosophic doubt; accountability; adaptive behaviour; operant behaviour; social significance; recruiting reinforcement.
Presenters - Bobbi Hoadley, Cathy Knights.
"Two wrongs, don’t make a right" and "if you can’t beat them, join them". These are attitudes we run into all the time as people exercise more choice and control day to day, and are more used to getting reinforcement.
Orange is the New Black TV show on Netflix is a good example. It demonstrates that behaviour is a learned history of how people adapt. It’s a show about criminals, but it never invites you to judge those people. Everyone has a story. Everyone has good and bad aspects. Everyone will do a better job, if they know how. There is no redemption in retaliation. Redemption comes in the generosity that we can put out a hand and help a person.
When we feel like staying on top of our behaviour in an ethical or scrupulous way, in a world that is so unscrupulous, it can be hard with no access to reinforcement. Daniel Goldman, who wrote Emotional Intelligence, said that there are bad things that happen, but the world turns on the small generosity and kindnesses between people. The fact that people want to do good for their friends, those acts so outnumber the weighty evils out there. The world could not continue to exist without the true goodness in the hearts of most people.
You don’t need to go to the dark side to have success. Looking at the human condition can be bleak. In our work, we don’t tell people to be nice - that doesn’t change anyone’s behaviour. When you challenge someone’s behavioural conditioning, they will reject you - it’s a part of their personality.
There is a flip side to the "if you can’t beat them, join them". When a new client comes - I join them; I suspend my judgement and their resistance. I accept what’s going on with them as a way of coping - a way to survive. Behaviour can imprison us based on our learning history. When we learned it, it was relevant. The very first thing is take away the resistance. Instead of blaming or punishing the person, or self-blaming too. We can’t make people behave.
We work with adults and adolescents with good intellectual capacity - so we ask what’s going to work for you, in order to get good reinforcement and use the replacement behaviour. Very often we’ll teach how to direct the environment better, e.g. to explain, to understand, to recruit reinforcement. Turn the environment into a much more generous, altruistic, and kind environment. Help everyone to be more mindful. Stop pushing back against the person, and understand they are expressing needs that must be met, start seeing behaviour as an adaptation. Our role is to help adapt in a different way.
Many of us want to be kind and generous, and yet we may not be helpful. Sometimes we over-accommodate, rather than set up natural contingencies. If you are living with a vulnerability, than you should live with good support and feel safe and okay. We can only ever control our own behaviour.