Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Behavior Modification

  • Laura K. HansenEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_883-1



Procedure in which learning principles and procedures are systematically applied to observed behaviors and environmental conditions to increase adaptive behaviors and decrease maladaptive behaviors.


Behavior modification entails methodically applying techniques and principles of learning theory to change an individual’s observable behavior through environmental manipulation, primarily focusing on events that occur immediately before and immediately after the behavior (Martin and Pear 2015; Horrow and Gochros 1970). Behavior modification gained popularity throughout the 1950s and 1960s as an antithesis to the prevailing psychodynamic approach to the treatment of mental illness. The earliest behaviorists were interested in manipulating the stimulus-response connection in order to change a maladaptive behavior into an adaptive behavior (Bruck 1968), extending and elaborating upon Thorndike’s “law of effect” (Waters 1934)....


Autism Spectrum Disorder Behavior Modification Aversive Stimulus Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Maladaptive Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bradley A. Green
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA