Learning and Stress

1140 Words5 Pages
1. Describe how you can use operant conditioning principles to a) discontinue your undesired behavior and b) replace that behavior with the desirable behavior you identified.

Since I was in middle school, I have always had the bad habit of biting my nails. In the past, I have attempted to stop. I have tried to get acrylic nails, but I just ended up biting those too. I even made it my New Year’s resolution one year. So far, nothing has been successful. I would like to take this opportunity to try and stop biting my nails once and for all.

The textbook defines operant conditioning as ‘the process of modifying behavior through the use of positive or negative consequences following specific behaviors. It is based on the notion that
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I will attempt to use the operant conditioning method to stop biting my nails. I will reward my self by adding a dollar to my ‘manicure’ fund for each day I am successful in not biting my nails. I will also plan to bring a stress ball to work and class. When I feel the urge to bite my nails, I will squeeze the stress ball instead. I will replace my nail biting habit with using the stress ball.

During the first week, I earned 5 dollars. I slipped up and started to bite my nails during one of my classes. I didn’t even realize I was doing it for about 5 minutes. I also slipped up another day while doing homework. I was successful in bringing my stress ball with me to class and work, but did not find myself using it too often. I think I need to make more of an effort to take it out when I am at my desk or in class.

After 19 days, I have earned the $14 I need treat myself to a manicure. Although it took me longer than I had hoped for, I am very proud of myself for completing my first goal. Now, I hope to continue with the system and treat myself to another manicure in 2 weeks. Although I would not consider this a complete success, I have certainly improved on biting my nails less than I did before this exercise.

4. What do you consider to be your most important source of stress? Based on what you read about how to cope with stress, what do you consider to be the best way to effectively cope with this source of
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