Changing behavior case study analysis

For this assignment, you will examine how learning theories can be used to understand persisting behavior, as well as how an understanding of these theories can help change behavior.  First, select a bad habit or undesired behavior that a person might want to change from the following lists:  procrastination, binge drinking, swearing, excessive caffeine consumption, chronic lateness, smoking, fear of speaking in public, or frequent road rage. Now, suppose a client has come to you because they want to understand and change their behavior.


Address the following sections in your Case Study Analysis:


(a) Identification of Behavior (Introduction paragraph)

  • Briefly describe the client’s undesired behavior that he/she would like to change.  Include details related to how long the behavior has persisted, the severity/frequency, and how it impacts the person’s life.

(b) Based on what you have learned about classical, operant, and social learning theories, develop three brief descriptions (less than one page each), describing how each of the theories could help explain the development and/or persistence of the undesired behavior.  Include terms and concepts related to theories that are most relevant in the plan for the client as indicated below.

  • Plan 1: How could classical conditioning explain the development and the persistence of the client’s undesired behavior?  Include in your discussion coverage of the relationship between and unconditional stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, and conditioned response.
  • Plan 2: How could operant conditioning explain the development and persistence of the client’s undesired behavior? Include discussion of shaping and reinforcers (positive and negative), as well as punishments.  How could operant conditioning be used to help lessen or change the behavior?
  • Plan 3: How could cognitive and social learning theories explain the development and persistence of the client’s undesired behavior?  In particular, discuss the role of latent learning, learned helplessness, vicarious reinforcement and/or vicarious punishment as applicable.

(c) Recommendation – Conclusion Section: Now that you have examined scenarios related to the persistence of the undesired behavior, consider how you would recommend the client change their behavior.  Select one of the learning theories above and describe how it could be used to help the client lessen and change the desired behavior.


Requirements: Length = approximately 3-4 pages.

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