Most behavior modification programs currently used are those based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), formerly known as the Experimental Analysis of Behavior which was pioneered by B. F. Skinner. It is the use of empirically demonstrated behavior change techniques.
Awarding students high marks for good work is only behavior modification in the broadest and weakest sense. Attention and praise at the second-by-second level are more likely to follow its principles. Positive reinforcement in behavior modification is in providing compliments, approval, encouragement, and affirmation. A ratio of five compliments for every one complaint is generally seen as being effective in altering behavior in the desired manner. The other areas that have repeatedly shown effectiveness are the work of behaviorists working in the area of community reinforcement for addictions and behavioral activation for depression.
Systematic desensitization is a type of Pavlovian therapy/classical conditioning therapy developed by a South African psychiatrist, Joseph Wolpe. It is sometimes called graduated exposure therapy. The goal of this process is that an individual will learn to cope and overcome the fear in each step of the hierarchy, which will lead to overcoming the last step.
Joseph Wolpe (1958) created a therapy technique for fearful adults similar to the procedures used by Jones three decades earlier. He found that many of his patients could be encouraged to expose themselves gradually to the situation or object that feared if they were at the same time engaging in behavior that inhibited anxiety. Many of the fears felt by Wolpe’s patients were so abstract, for example, fear of criticism and fear of failure. It was impractical to confront them with real-life situations that would evoke these fears. Wolpe reasoned that he might have fearful adults imagine what they feared.
This is done by forming a hierarchy of fear, involving the conditioned stimulus (e.g. a spider) The patient works their way up starting at the least unpleasant and practicing their relaxation technique as they go.
Therapists ask the client to imagine the least threatening situation in the anxiety hierarchy. The client repeatedly imagines (or is confronted by) this situation until it fails to evoke any anxiety at all. This process is repeated while working through all of the situations in the anxious hierarchy until the most anxiety-provoking. The patient is also given training in relaxation techniques to help with breathing and muscle detensioning.
Therapists ask the client to imagine the least threatening situation in the anxiety hierarchy. The patient is also given training in relaxation techniques to help with breathing and muscle detensioning.