Do you have a favourite behaviour principle? It’s not weird to have a favourite, right? Some people might say yes, but others might be thinking, “but how do you choose just one?! There are so many great behaviour principles” and I totally agree. Although, I like to think of it as I didn’t choose the principle, the principle chose me…and then I actually learned the proper term.
Looking back, I spent most of my life using one specific behaviour principle on myself and did not even realize it until I entered into the world of Behaviour Analysis. The principle in question: the Premack Principle (also known as “Grandma’s Law”).
I’m sure we all know what the Premack Principle is but just in case… the Premack Principle is making an opportunity to engage in a high-probability behavior contingent on the occurrence of a low-frequency behavior (Cooper et al., 2007). This functions as reinforcement for the low-frequency behaviour. Put simply, doing something that you do not enjoy before reinforcing yourself with an activity that you do enjoy.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve used this principle on myself. However, until I entered the field, I had no idea that it had a name and is something that professionals will intentionally use. I wasn’t even aware of “Grandma’s Law.” I grew up with “Nonna’s (Italian grandma) Law”: “do it because I said so” and that was that. But I have always been the type to get through the tasks that were not as reinforcing (low-frequency behaviours), so that I could spend more time on the things I actually enjoyed (high-probability behaviours). Interestingly, I find that I used it even more so as an adult. An example: cleaning the house. I think I know one person who actually likes to clean, but for the rest of us, it is really not a fun time. So, I tell myself that if I can get the chores done in the morning, I can spend the rest of my day taking part in enjoyable activities.
Thanks to my “falling into” way of entering Behaviour Analysis, I learned that I unknowingly have a favourite principle I use for motivation and reinforcement on a daily basis…and here I was trying to pick a favourite.
Point of the story: The principle picked the behaviour tech. (A little Harry Potter reference for all the Potter fans)
Do you have a favourite principle? Did you pick it or did it pick you?
About The Author:
HI! My name is Cassandra, and if you didn’t catch the “u” in “behavior”, I’m Canadian. I am a self-proclaimed Behavior Analysis geek. When I am not learning more about the field, you can find me walking my dogs, working out, reading a book, or watching a sport/binging shows on Netflix. My dream is to work in the areas of fitness and nutrition and show how Behavior Analysis can help people reach their goals.