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Behavior Modification Project

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Behavior modification using a pre- and post-intervention technique. Objective: To enhance students’ understanding of behavior modification and learning principles through application of those principles. Instructions to students:

You will form groups of 5/6 people. You will decide on a particular behavior that you have observed around you (in the institute, classrooms, hostels, homes, or on the streets) that you might want to change using behavior modification techniques and learning principles. In the first week, observe and gather data about current behavior (pre-intervention behavior). In the second week introduce the intervention, and in the third week, observe behavior again (post-intervention behavior). You will then compare pre- and post-intervention data to determine if the intervention has brought about a change in behavior. You don’t have to conduct complex data analysis, simple reporting of means will do. Each group will submit its findings in a formal report to the professor and a 10-15 minute powerpoint presentation in class.

The report and presentation will cover: the purpose of the project, a brief explanation of behavior modification and learning principles, a description of the behavior to be changed, description of the intervention used, pre- and post-intervention data along with changes if any, discussion of results, and recommendations on how the intervention can be improved. Example of a Behavior Modification Project: Suppose you observe that most people don’t wash their hands after using a public toilet (say in a mall or at the institute). During the first week, you will observe and record people’s behavior. Let’s say your data shows that out of the 50 people who used the public toilet, 25 did not wash their hands. In the second week, you will introduce an intervention, say that of putting up posters related to good hygiene in the public toilet. In the third week, you will observe and record people’s behavior again. You will then compare pre- and post-intervention data to see if putting up those posters has made a difference in people’s behavior.

How the project fits into the course: While the focus of the Individual Dynamics and Leadership course is to enhance individual self-awareness and give students a deeper understanding of their own personality influences and perceptual processes, this project could also help them see how theoretical concepts could be used to change undesirable behaviors, especially at the workplace. Managers often have to deal with unproductive behaviors such as late coming, procrastination, absenteeism, discourteous and uncivil behaviors in workplaces and so a practical understanding of behavior modification techniques and learning theories could aid them in making simple behavioral improvements within their teams and departments. Video links based on behavior modification and learning principles: Three myths of behavior change: A TEDx video explaining factors that are more likely to influence behavioral change – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5d8GW6GdR0 The Big Bang theory: Sheldon uses positive reinforcement and shaping to change Penny’s behavior. Just a humorous take on these concepts – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA96Fba-WHk The Ugly Indian: A Bangalore based group called The Ugly Indian uses behavior modification principles to encourage cleanliness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf1VA5jqmRo

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