This chapter deals with the application of the methods of operant learning theory, here called behavior modification, to clinical and social problems. As behavior therapy developed, there were numerous attempts to distinguish between the terms behavior therapy and behavior modification (e.g., Franzini & Tilker, 1972; Keehn & Webster, 1969; Pomerleau, 1979). Standard works on behavior modification still contain traces of such subtle distinctions in meaning although the case for using the terms synonymously has been put authoritatively (cf. Kazdin, 1978, 1984; Krasner, 1971; Mahoney, Kazdin, & Lesswing, 1974). In their introductory textbook, Behavior Modification in the Human Services, Sundel and Sundel (1982, p. 280) define behavior modification as the “application of principles and techniques derived from the experimental analysis of behavior to a wide range of human problems.” Behavior modification is based on the methods of applied behavior analysis, the principles of operant conditioning, and the conceptual framework of social learning theory. The authors define behavior therapy, on the other hand, as follows:

[It is] generally used as synonymous with the term behavior modification. The term behavior therapy connotes the provision of behavior modification services to individuals in a client-therapist setting. Historically, behavior therapy referred to the treatment methods based primarily on classical conditioning. (Sundel & Sundel, 1982, p. 280)


Cognitive Behavior Modification Behavior Modification Behavioral Medicine Behavior Analysis Operant Conditioning 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Schorr
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität EichstättEichstättWest Germany

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