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Behavior Modification

The moment I received this assignment, I knew what behavior pattern I needed to modify. I have a big problem with controlling myself as, whenever I feel angered by something, I start cursing. I have been struggling with the cursing problem for a long time. I curse a lot when I am in class, especially when I am looking for a solution to a problem or a question and the answer is not forthcoming. Somehow, I feel annoyed at myself when I cannot find the correct answer or when I feel like I have forgotten something very simple that I should definitely know. It is interesting that I feel embarrassed when I hear other people cursing but I still do that myself. I have understood that it is not the habit with which I can instantly do away. However, I believe that if I put my mind to it, I will be able to overcome it. Most of the time I feel embarrassed when I curse because I do it loudly and it makes me seem arrogant towards other people. I try to apologize whenever I curse, mostly when I do it before my seniors including teachers and parents. To avoid such inconveniences, I am determined to eliminate this behavior.

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I used the first four days of the assignment to count the number of times I cursed in class. I realized that I did it whenever I was angry with something or with myself. The first time I had done it was when I was asked to compare the intellectual capacity of human beings and other mammals based on the evolution theory. I could not understand how someone could have asked such a question because to me it was clear that human beings were more intelligent than other mammals. Therefore, I felt that the question was an insult to my intellectual capacity because the answer was too obvious and my classmate should not have been asking such a question. However, I soon realized that the question was posed to spur discussion amongst my classmates. Furthermore, what I did not appreciate at that time was that people have different opinions that should be respected. I realized that my classmates looked uncomfortable and went quiet for five seconds or so. I had to apologize as usual. Looking at this from a classical conditioning perspective, I would say that the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) in this case is the feeling of anger, the unconditioned response (UCR) is cursing, the conditioned stimulus (CS) is whenever I’m in class, and the conditioned response (CR) is cursing when I’m angered in class. Looking at the data I collected during the first four days of the assignment, I noticed that there was a close relationship between the number of times I cursed and when exactly I did it. The first day I cursed record-breaking 12 times. That was the biggest number of times I cursed during all the eight days of the assignment. Luckily enough, I started cursing less as the days progressed.

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The best explanation I have for the reduction in the frequency of cursing is becoming more cautious with my behavior thanks to my determination to get rid of it. Therefore, I was taking stock of the number of times I did it and, whenever the thought of cursing crossed my mind, I tried to stop talking. Sometimes I even covered my mouth with my hand as soon as I realized that I was about to utter the bad words. Before the assignment, I did not have any drive and had not made up my mind that I needed to change the behavior, and that is why I cursed so many times. In fact, it was not a priority for me and it did not matter much at that time. As the days passed, the number of times I cursed reduced. That made me realize that it was possible for me to change this habit if I wanted to.

The subsequent four days of the assignment were meant to ensure that I made even more progress in changing my behavior by introducing some reward or punishment. I knew I had started the process four days earlier but I needed to add some twist to it to see whether the rate of changing would favor me even more. It was clear to me that I didn’t like the cursing habit and I needed to change it. Therefore, my goal was to make sure that the frequency of cursing would reduce or finally I would stop cursing at all. According to the operant conditioning principles, it is much easier to reduce unwanted behavior by punishment rather than reward. I also believed that, since that was negative attitude, it would be more efficient to punish myself for it by denying myself something I liked. I decided to deny myself a Pepsi. I always took a cold Pepsi every evening and had been used to it. Therefore, I was not allowed to enjoy a cold Pepsi at the end of the day whenever I cursed at any point in class. I used the removal of something I liked because I knew it would motivate me to stop cursing so that I could continue enjoying Pepsi.

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It was evident that I was able to make some progress in changing the behavior. The frequency of cursing reduced by half during the period I used a punishment for it. That made me more convinced that I could stop cursing at all if I continued in the same way. There was a notable difference between the first four days when there was no punishment and the next four days. The number of times I cursed in the first four days was bigger if compared to the next four days.  Therefore, I can conclude that the punishment was very beneficial in changing my behavior.

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