situation where the old habit frequently occurred, and (d) you realize
you are doing another habit that often precedes the bad habit.
Examples of the latter would be face touching that almost always
precedes nail biting or hair pulling, touching the finger nail before
biting it, and feeling your face before picking it. More careful self-
observation is needed to discover the situations, activities, and people
in (c), and the associated habits in (d).
Azrin and Dunn's procedures also include relaxing in the habit-
producing situations, daily practice of replacing the old habit with the
new response in the four circumstances described above, asking
friends for feedback, showing off your improvements (especially in
situations you have been avoiding), and, of course, keeping daily
records of progress.
Why is Behavior so Hard to Understand?
All of us, including psychologists, have difficulty understanding why
people do the things they do. If behavioral control were simply a
matter of immediate, external, observable reinforcement, we would
not be so baffled (nor intrigued) by humans. There are several reasons
why behavior and feelings are so mysterious.
Classical, operant, and social conditioning are all intermeshed
As mentioned above, everyday examples of pure operant or
classical learning are hard to find. They operate together in complex
ways. For instance, a stimulus (an insult or a nice body) may elicit an
unobservable emotional response (anger or attraction). That's classical
conditioning. But the overt response, which may or may not be
consistent with the emotional reaction to the offending or appealing
person, depends on many complicated factors, including needs, self-
evaluation and confidence (that's Social Learning Theory), anticipated
+ and- consequences (that's social and operant conditioning), and
other forces. What actually happens, including how the other person
reacts, after we overtly respond influences how we feel (classical) and
how we respond (classical, social, and operant) in similar situations
later on. My simple point is: it's complicated. Yet, knowing the theories
of learning, motivation, and self-control reduces some of the mystery.
The payoffs for a behavior are multiple and may change over time
Smoking is a good example. Like my coffee drinking mentioned
above, one has to learn to like cigarettes. That means puffing on a
cigarette must have been paired thousands of times with the
satisfaction of powerful needs: peer approval? a sense of adventure or
grown-upness? eating and drinking? relaxing? having a good time?
Eventually cigarettes taste good. But at a later stage, after thousands