Sunday, October 27, 2013

Changing behavior

I just finished a book called The Science of Consequences, by Susan M. Schneider. A couple of items in the Glossary struck me as interesting (yes, I'm the sort of person who reads the glossary and endnotes!).
Negative: If a behavior declines because of a consequence, that consequence is a negative (a punisher, an aversive) and the relationship is punishment. (Note that the negative can be an outcome involving the removal of a positive....)
It's important to note that things that seem like negatives sometimes aren't; what matters is what actually happens, not the intention or the appearance.... "Negatives" that have no effect on a behavior are not truly negatives; indeed, if the behavior is strengthened, they are reinforcers. Again, it's what actually happens that matters. [p263]
Reinforcement: When a consequence sustains a behavior, the relationship is reinforcement....The consequence can be an outcome involving the presentation of a positive, or the removal of a negative, or both simultaneously. [p263]
These are good things to keep in mind as we interact with others in life, and in our projects. Things go well when there is a ratio of 5/1 positive/negative. Things go badly when that ratio is reversed; you see divorces, the end of friendships, and forks in projects.

I'm mostly publishing this to remind me to pass along compliments, and remember to thank people for the good work they do. Thanks should outnumber bug reports and other complaints FIVE to ONE!