Consequences of Behavior (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on May 1, 2014


Punishment, a group of behavioral reduction procedures, appears to be the most frequently used of the behavior change techniques. The behavior reduction procedures include, from the least to the most intrusive and restrictive, differential reinforcement, extinction, verbal aversives, response cost, time-out, overcorrection, and physical aversives (Kerr & Nelson, 2002).

Although it is frequently used with children, punishment is perhaps the least effective of the behavior management interventions discussed in this text. Those using punishment have been reinforced by its immediate result; however, it has been determined that the long-term effects of punishment are limited. McDaniel (1980) points out that punishment tends to suppress the undesirable behavior rather than extinguish it. This suppression is of short duration, and frequently the behavior recurs in the absence of the punisher.

Punishment is viewed by the behavior management practitioner as two distinct operations. Punishment is accomplished by the addition of an aversive stimulus to the environment. Examples are paddling, electric shock, additional homework, and the like. Punishment may also be seen as the subtraction (taking away) of a pleasurable item or activity. Examples include loss of extracurricular activities, recess, and the like. Punishment is not to be confused with extinction (see earlier section).

It can be stated that some punishments will remove some unacceptable behaviors (Shea, Bauer, & Lynch, 1989). It has been found, however, that when a punished behavior recurs, it usually does so at a rate higher than before the punishment was originally imposed. Another concern associated with punishment is its potential and actual effect on the physical and emotional health of the child. In some cases, punishment may cause emotional problems. The fact that the punished child identifies the punishment with the punisher rather than with the inappropriate behavior should be of great concern to teachers and parents who, as previously discussed, are models for children. Children who are punished or abused often punish or abuse their children. The results of punishment do not appear sufficient to justify its use as a behavior change agent.

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