Overview

This series of laboratories provides an introduction into the functional analysis of behaviour. Functional analysis of behaviour is the basis of any behaviourally oriented therapy. It provides the diagnostic information and formulation that is used to decide on therapeutic interventions. It encapsulates the basic philosophy of the behavioural approach in that it is individualised; driven by reliable observational data, and science based. For the assignment we detail in these laboratories, you will select one of the behaviours that you display frequently (at least 3-5 times a day) and monitor it for a period of 14 consecutive days (so no gaps!). You will be collecting both quantitative (frequency, duration etc) and qualitative data (stimulus, organism, context, antecedents and consequences). You will then analyse your qualitative data using a SORCK formulation analysis and use that to write a behavioural treatment intervention that could be used to modify your behaviour. Further notes are provided here to aid you in completing this assignment. However, your tutor will be marking your assignment, and it is important that you attend the laboratories to get further information on the assignment.

Where to start

.      1)  The first step is to pick the behaviour you want to assess. Choose a behaviour that you want to 
reduce, which occurs at least 3-5 times a day. Please do not select any serious psychological conditions for this assignment. Instead, behaviours that you consider bad habits – e.g., nail biting – are more appropriate. Please consult with your tutor once you have selected your behaviour.

.      2)  After choosing a behaviour, you will keep what is known as a ‘narrative record’ of the behaviour for at least three days. This will allow you to decide whether your choice of behaviour was a good one or whether there are difficulties you had not considered before you start your 14-day monitoring period. (See below for points you should think about).

.      3)  To ensure you have identified a specific behaviour, an operational definition is used. This allows you to clearly define the behaviour based on the motor components that are involved in performing the behaviour. The operational definition allows you to state clearly what is scored, what is not scored and instances which could be described as questionable or borderline. For example, study is a global term used to describe a collection of both overt and covert behaviours, such as writing, typing, sitting in lectures, sitting at your desk (overt) or thinking (covert). The big idea of an operational definition is: others should be able to repeat your monitoring based on your definition. The operational definition has to be stated as part of the Method section.

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