Hopefully by now (if you’ve read any previous posts), you should have a little baseline knowledge about some of the principles of ABA. In this post, I’ll discuss a slightly different application of the principles – using them on yourself for your own behaviour.
I recently saw Aubrey Daniels in London, king of OBM (organisational behaviour management, which uses the principles of ABA in business and staff/performance management), and he spoke quite a bit about self management.
Cooper, Heron, and Heward (2007) (the ABA bible) define self management as ‘the personal application of behaviour change tactics that produces a desired change in behaviour‘. Put it this way, have you ever left yourself a note to defrost something for dinner, or left a note to call someone back, or set a reminder on your phone to get something from the shop? That’s self management. I constantly set myself reminders, flag emails, write myself notes, it keeps me organised and prompts me to do the things I need to do.
Self management can help you be more effective and efficient in daily life, accomplish targets, achieve personal goals, and replace bad habits with good ones (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007).
A good way to implement self management, is planning contingent reinforcement. Contingent means that you only get the reinforcement if you emit the target behaviour. An example would be, ‘write 500 words of an essay, and then I can go and get some chocolate’ (I used stuff like this loads when I was studying (I still do as well)). Another example is, respond to all of my flagged emails, and I can watch a recorded tv programme. I can only do these things if I achieve my target.
Aubrey Daniels recommended this book on self management.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine, who has started studying again, and we were discussing ways in which he could complete his work more efficiently. It’s true, if you work hard, you have to play hard, this basically means that your reinforcement (play) has to be relative to your response effort (work) (e.g. money is probably a reinforcer for most people, but £1 for a days work isn’t likely to increase any behaviour!). So we discussed possible reinforcers for reaching a pre determined target (watching football, going to the cinema, going for a drink, get a nice meal), and talked about how we must be disciplined in self reinforcement; it could be so easy to not reach the target and do what you want anyway.
So , why not give it a go. If you’re forgetful, set yourself some reminders/leave yourself some notes. If you have a lot of work on, think of something you want to do (a reinforcer), set yourself a reasonable target, and make reinforcement contingent (no cheating!).