Updated: Jan 26, 2022
After spending the past 10 years of my life learning the significance of A-B-C - Antecedent Behavior Consequence (aka the three-term contingency ) and how it is used to inform more ethical R+ animal training methods, recently I was introduced to analyzing behavior through the B=f(x) under C lens in Sean and Maasa's "Introduction to the Science of Behavior" course and this is blowing my mind. It feels like a paradigm shift and I am still trying to reconcile/meld what I already knew with what I am knowing now. My understanding is that a simple linear ABC analysis makes sense in a Skinnerian lab, but in the real world, behavior is a function of many consequential contingencies which may/may not work the same way in different specific conditions. And any behavior modification program needs to address all the variables including Under C.
B= f(x) under C opens up different questions and options for talking about behavior and for problem-solving, beyond simply identifying and providing R+ for a 'desirable behavior'. This bigger picture/wider lens is significant for understanding and applying Goldiamond’s “Constructional approach” (see my CAAWT Conference notes) - which is a method of dealing with “problem behaviors” by seeing how they are adaptive and rational. And it’s not simply WTF (what’s the function?) - there are many variables to consider such that I am wondering how we can ever have enough information to know what to do. (speaking for myself #NotATrainer)
I also finished reading Joe Layng's amazing book this week and I am not sure if the book would have made as much sense had I not attended the CAAWT conference earlier this year or if I weren't doing this course to get a handle on the terminology and concepts. I loved reading about the human patients using the "Non-Linear Constructional Approach" and I am fascinated how this knowledge can best be applied to working with animals (who cannot keep logs/ who communicate their emotions differently).
This point is critical to nonlinear analysis. No matter how thorough one’s ABC analysis might be, or how closely one examines the verbal relations involved, one cannot understand or identify the variables affecting the referent behavior of interest (RB) without considering the available alternative behaviors and their consequences. -
... looking at a single contingency is inadequate.
Links to more notes on the same subject:
notes reading the book Non Linear Contingency Analysis (Shared on the ATA Book Club, this is live document)