Behavior Analysis

Case of Emily

Recap the Case

            Emily is a 6-year old girl who was referred by her pediatric psychologist.  When she reached her first grade year she started having behavioral issues.  She began to express her dislike for school and resisted going.  What started as being reluctant turned into screaming tantrums when being faced with attending school.  Emily also refused to sleep alone and wanted to sleep with her parents.  Her parents tried to move her to her own bed when she fell asleep and often she would wake up screaming, waking up her whole family.  Tired of the battle, the parents let her sleep with them and even tried keeping her home from school while they were trying to figure out her issues.  Emily behaves well at school and is up to her academic grade level.


Behavior Analysis



Case study 1- Brenda

  • Rationale for behavior chaining
  • Primary and secondary reinforcement
  • Mastery of behavior chain help
  • Two ways of evaluating units in mastery of behavior

Case study 11- Mrs. Riley

  • Rationale for behaviorist recommendations
  • Six steps in forming a token economy
  • Role of tokens and back up re-enforcers



This presentation highlights t case studies. The first pertain student a 17 years old tennis student, Brenda, who is encountering difficulty with speed and accuracy.  In the second scenario is Mrs. Riley who has undertaken to teach an elementary class of unruly third graders.

Psychology: Behavior Analysis


These two case studies identify behavior patterns in district situations. One requires that chaining be implemented as a resolution. The steps contain sin this strategy will be outlined in this discussion. The second case scenario involved introduction of a token system, which will be discussed as to significance of this intervention.

Case Study 1: Brenda

The rationale for   Brenda’s referral could be explained using the definition of chaining and what it encompasses. According to Raymond Miltenberger (2012) a behavior chain relates to a specific sequence of discrete responses. Every response individually is associated with a particular stimulus condition.  In turn each discrete response along with the associated stimulus condition serves as an individual component of the chain (Miltenberger, 2012).

More importantly, as these single components are grouped, a behavior chain reaction is produces resulting in a terminal outcome. Each response contributes a stimulus change simultaneously forging a reinforcer conditioner to emerge thereafter providing a discriminative stimulus (SD) for the next response in the chain. A dual function reaction is then established whereby ultimately conditioned reinforcers are activated, which remedies speed and accuracy issues experienced by people such as Brenda (Miltenberger, 2012).

Re-inforcement is an important component of chaining. Primary reinforcement is also known unconditioned reinforcement whereby a stimulus does not require pairing to function as a reinforcer. In such cases the stimulus obtained its function through the evolution contained through in its role as species’ survival. Classic examples of primary reinforcement is when a person goes to sleep without aid of a drug, breathes without help and accesses fresh air without outside stimulation (Michael, 2005)

Secondary reinforcement requires ‘a stimulus or situation that has acquired its function as a reinforcer after pairing with a stimulus that functions as a reinforcer’ (Michael, 2005). Importantly, it is known as conditioned reinforcement. The mechanism adapted as the stimulus could be a primary reinforcer or another conditioned reinforcer. Examples of secondary reinforcement could be identified when the sound from a clicker is used to set up stimuli for reactions. It is sometimes called clicker training. The clicker sound activates an emotional response that creates motivation to act. Many times it is associated with commendation in adults or treats in children. Subsequently, the sound functions as a secondary reinforcer. In chaining a series of reactions are required before the stimulation effect is established and ultimately reinforcement occurs through conditioning (Michael, 2005).

As such, if Brenda encounters difficulty in mastering any aspect of the chain the instructor could change the method of reinforcement for that segment or merely keep reinforcing that part repeatedly to emphasize the command. The difficulty lies in speed and accuracy. Along with that dysfunction there may be superimposed focus issues. Therefore in addressing all these developments through chaining, which should produce some degree of focus, Brenda’s instructor ought to focus on secondary conditioning aspects of the chain.

One way in assessing mastery of the unit is if without stimulation the unit is executed because Brenda would have learnt the behavior without conditioning. Another way is for the analyst to validate each component of the chain to ensure that the sequencing is appropriate for Brenda.

Case study 11- Mrs. Riley

Reasons or rationale behind the behaviorist’s recommendations that Mrs. Riley introduces a token economy system for her energetic class lay in interpreting elements of token economy intervention. According to Miltenberger (2008) token economy is a behavior change system embodying three vital components. They are listing target behaviors to be addressed in the process; identifying tokens or points that participants will be rewarded for simply not engaging in those  targeted behaviors and thirdly designing a backup reinforcer menu with preferred items in case distribution of specified tokens are exhausted or for rewarding attempts at compliance (Miltenberger, 2008).

These items could be tangible or intangible and include privileges as well as preferred status within the classroom setting. This type of intervention is expected to serve as an incentive for change and compliance with new ways of conducting themselves. It is an important strategy in enforcing order within a classroom of overly active and partially uncontrollable third graders because tokens function as generalized conditioned reinforcers for the target behaviors (Miltenberger, 2008).

There are six steps in forming a token economy. First it is identifying and defining the target skill or behavior since there must be distinction between token rewarded behavior and abnormal ones. Secondly, it is important to collect base line data. This is applied as an evaluation technique in measuring the success of the intervention and details how the behavior change is occurring to make future adjustments. Thirdly, it is identifying reinforcers. Precisely, reinforcers serve as a mechanism that is used to increase a person’s ability to execute a particular/ targeted task/skills. It is important to identify the mechanism as well as token since people respond differently to reinforcers. Some provide favorable outcomes while others are ineffective. It has been further posited that learning will not occur if there are no reinforcers motivating actions of participating students. Hence, the importance of identifying a reinforcer that works for the student population   (National Professional Development Center, 2012)

Fourthly, is creating the reinforcement menu. This allows categorizing of reinforcers into units of social, activity, sensory or as many which could be defined within the framework setting. This brings clarity and order to the intervention. Fifthly, is establishing s token economy program. The program guides the project and later can be adapted to similar settings. Sixthly is implementation. Definitely, these are the steps Mrs. Riley ought to take as the behaviorist’s recommendation of a token economy program (National Professional Development Center, 2012)

The role of tokens in the reinforcement process can be explained by citing the customer purchasing relationships.  Stores are often incorporated in the token economy system. When a client buys an item from any participating store, the cashier gives the person a coupon, which signifies a medium of exchange for the token earned.  Later this coupon is traded for another item at a lower price, redeemed immediately for the backup reinforcer.  Money is a valuable example of tokens that are exchanged at another time for backup objects and earned activities. These include, entertainment, food, clothing, accessories (Miltenberger, 2008).

Precisely, tokens signify generalized conditioned reinforcers because they are exchanged for a number of backup reinforcers. They have been further identified as generalized conditioned reinforcers being independent and relative to backup reinforcements. Finally, the significance of tokens as reinforcers within the backup mechanism lay in the unchangeableness for a wide range of backup reinforcers (Miltenberger, 2008).


In cases of both Brenda and Mrs. Riley behavioral changes were identified. The steps and rationale behind each intervention was offered. Chaining required conditioning which must be reinforced and token economy detailed backup reinforcement strategies as well in achieving favorable outcomes. As such, it can be concluded that reinforcement is important in behavioral change.


Michael, J. (2005). Positive and negative reinforcement, a distinction that is no longer

necessary; or a better way to talk about bad things. Journal of Organizational Behavior

Management, 24, 207–22.

Miltenberger, R (2008). Behavior Modification. Principles and Procedures. Wadsworth. Centage


National Professional Development Center for Autistic Disorders (2012). Steps for implanting

Token Economy Programs. Retrieved 9th February, 2013 from