Biophysical major consequences for behavior. Reinforcement refers to the

Biophysical theory,
being genetic or hereditary has fair verifiability and poor scores for the remaining
three criteria. In other words, it is relatively testable, but does not account
for a substantial quantity of behavior, it does not provide reliable answers
about what people are likely to do under certain circumstances, and does not
account for observed phenomena. Biochemical explanations show an excess or
deficiency of various substances in the body such as brain damage.

Psychoanalytic theory
is another explanation of behavior, specifically for development. Sigmund Freud
and Jean Piaget developed stages that are to occur in every typically
developing person. The person must complete the previous stage before moving to
the next stage. The inclusiveness of developmental theory was considered “good”
and the predictive utility was considered “fair” meaning it accounts for a
substantial quality of behavior, and it provides somewhat reliable predictions
about one’s behavior under certain circumstances. However, verifiability and
parsimony are considered poor mainly because it is difficult to determine if target
behaviors are the result of failure to reach or pass a certain stage of

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Max Wertheimer and
Jerome Bruner used Gestalt psychology to explain human behavior. They
determined that people tend to perceive things in organized ways, and people
are not learning new things, they are just rearranging thought patterns they
already have. “This approach holds that teachers cannot provide knowledge to
students; students must construct their own knowledge in their own minds”, (Alberto,
P., & Troutman, A. C. page 9). This theory includes a wide variety of
behaviors but lacks in verifiability, and predictive utility because these developments
take place within the person and there is no way to confirm their existence and
there is no limit on what one person may learn versus another. Unfortunately
none of these theories meet all four criteria of usefulness.

The following four
concepts are extremely important in the behavioral explanation: positive
reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative
punishment. Punishment and reinforcement are the two major consequences for
behavior. Reinforcement refers to the increase in a behavior, which means the
person is going to be performing the behavior more often to gain the desired
consequences, whether it is positive or negative. Positive reinforcement refers
to the increase in a behavior and results in an increase in a consequence, for
example a child who gets praise for putting away their toys. The increase in
behavior is the action of putting away toys, and the praise represents the added
consequence. Negative reinforcement is the increase in behavior for the removal
of a consequence. For example, Professor Grundy opens his window to reduce the
odor in his office. Opening the window represents the increase in behavior, and
the reduction of odor is the consequence.

Punishment refers to
the decrease in a particular behavior which means the subject will reduce the
amount of the times the behavior is acted out, or completely eliminate the
behavior all together. Positive punishment means that something is added to
decrease a disruptive behavior. For example, when Alyse stopped singing in
class because she was complimented by her music teacher. The compliment was
added unfortunately resulting in the decrease in Alyse’s singing. Negative punishment
refers to something being removed in order to reduce an undesirable behavior. There
are two e types of negative punishment, one being response cost and the other
time out. Response cost and time outs refer to the removal of a reinforcement
to reduce a target behavior. As long as the subject has the opportunity to earn
positive reinforcement, negative punishment will work. “Behavior that is
followed by pleasant consequences tend to be repeated and thus learned.”
(Alberto page 11)

Applied behavior
analysis (ABA) can be defined as “systematically applying
interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially
significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the
interventions employed are responsible for the improvement of behavior” (Baer,
Wolf & Risley, 1987). The main focus of ABA is to change behavior. There
are seven major characteristics of ABA in that it is applied, behavioral,
analytic, technological, conceptually sound, effective, and generalized. There
is a significant amount of rejection when it comes to using ABA therapy,
specifically positive reinforcement, especially when it causes pain or
discomfort. Misuse of positive reinforcement is common and many parents believe
it interferes with the free will of their child. “Misunderstandings of Skinner’s thought, it is believed that
somehow, behavior analysis has the power to remove the ability of the
individual to choose alternative responses” (Alberto, p. 25). ABA is used for
the exact opposite and to increase alternative responses in subjects.