Chapter 4 describes operant, classical, and social learning. These
theories will help you understand how antecedents-behavior-
consequences relationships are formed and maintained. Chapter 4 also
explains why some behaviors are hard to understand; this may help
too. Some of the questions above also involve many other factors that
might influence our behavior besides learning procedures, such as
values, unconscious needs and motives, games, unresolved emotional
situations, etc. These other factors are discussed in chapters 4, 9, 14,
This process called "behavioral analysis" is the essence of all
efforts to understand human behavior. The various theories--
psychoanalysis, social learning, humanistic, behavioral, Gestalt, etc.--
simply emphasize different factors among the antecedents or the
consequences. By repeatedly attempting to understand human
behavior in this way, you are becoming an "insightful" psychologist. Be
sure to discuss your "theories" with others; you need to consider many
points of view.
STEP FIVE: Use the self-awareness from the behavioral analysis
to exercise better self-control.
The knowledge from this method leads directly into using Methods
1 and 3, involving antecedent stimulus control, and Methods 16, 17,
and 18, involving control of the consequences, in order to develop
plans for creating a new response, a new way of handling a problem.
Anyone who has learned a new habit--exercising, picking up dirty
clothes, overcoming shyness--realizes that the new behavior is hard to
start. At first, the old behavior is so much easier, it's still automatic.
However, after 3 to 4 weeks of daily practice, the "hard" new habits
become automatic and easy too. There is no known alternative to
simply pushing yourself to carry out the new better habits until they
As we learned in chapter 5, almost any change is stressful, even
though it is an improvement. Furthermore, the ramifications of
seemingly small changes may be far reaching. Examples: deciding in
the sixth grade to go out for several sports may influence your career,
your choice of friends and spouse, your life-long interests, etc.
Likewise, if you decided to become a serious student... In some cases,
however, the "cost" of the new habit, in terms of effort and
ramifications, may seem too high.
An hour or so will be involved in the arm chair philosophizing about
the role of the antecedents and consequences. The actual observation
and recording will take 10 to 30 minutes a day for a couple of weeks.
The behavioral analysis will be another hour if you keep your
explanations strictly behavioral. (If you branch out into other theories,
e.g. "what games am I playing?" or "did my relationship with my