returns. Also, the self-punisher should place considerable emphasis on
learning the desired behavior to replace the unwanted behavior.
Time out, overcorrection, and response cost are effective in the
short-term with handicapped patients, although in some cases
symptom substitution occurs (other unwanted behavior increases).
The long-term results of aversive techniques in humans are not known
There are some dangers, in addition to the physical risks and anti-
self-help attitudes mentioned above. Any potentially high emotion
and/or self-demeaning method could cause harm, I suppose, but this
has not been observed. Yet, self-critical persons urged to become even
more self-critical could be harmed.
Bellack, A. and Hersen, M. Behavior modification, New York:
Oxford University Press, 1977.
Matson, J. L. & DiLorenzo, T. M. (1992). Punishment and its
alternatives. Springfield, IL: Springer.
Covert conditioning; covert punishment; covert rewards; intrinsic
satisfaction and pride
Our thoughts control or influence our behaviors and emotions to a
considerable extent. This is not surprising since our thoughts include
intentions ("I'm going to be the top salesperson this month"), plans
("I'll work until 9:00 every day and on weekends"), rational and
irrational thinking, all our knowledge (including self-help methods),
and so on. It seems pretty clear that our thoughts can be changed
through experience (reading, watching, listening, experimenting),
logical reasoning, learning processes (rewarding certain thoughts), and
many other ways.
Some psychologists believe we can also change the frequency or
strength of specific thoughts by reinforcing or punishing the thought.
In other words, the conditioning processes might work inside our
heads with thoughts just like they work with behavior, except it is all
covert. Actually, no one would be surprised if his/her urge to approach
someone increased after having a lot of sexual fantasies about that
person. That all takes place inside a person's head. Likewise, if you
imagined studying math on a beautiful warm beach, fantasized
winning a scholarship in math, and on and on, it is possible you would
start to feel more positive about math. What is less clear and more
complex is whether or not the person will actually approach the person
they have been thinking about sexually or if you would actually take a
math course. There is a giant leap from fantasy to reality.