Three-term contingency

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The three-term contingency (also known as the ABC contingency) in operant conditioning describes the relationship between a behavior, its consequence, and the environmental context. The three-term contingency was first defined by B. F. Skinner in the early 1950s.[1] It is often used within ABA to alter the frequency of socially significant human behavior.

Components[edit]

Antecedent[edit]

The antecedent stimulus occurs first in the contingency and signals that reinforcement or punishment is available on the contingency of a specific behavior. A discriminative stimuli, or SD, directly affects the likelihood of a specific response occurring.[2]

Behavior[edit]

The behavior, also referred to as the response, is any observable and measurable action a living organism can do. In the three-term contingency, behavior is operant, meaning it changes the environment in some way.

Consequence[edit]

Diagram of consequences in operant conditioning

The consequence to a behavior can be reinforcing or punishing. Reinforcing consequences increase the likelihood of a behavior occurring in the future; it is further divided into positive and negative reinforcement. Punishing consequences decrease the likelihood of a behavior occurring in the future; like reinforcement, it is divided into positive and negative punishment.

The effectiveness and value of a consequence is determined by the motivating operations the organism has. For example, deprivation of food can make food more effective as a consequence, and the satiation of hunger can make food less effective as a consequence.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Skinner, B. F. (Burrhus Frederic) (1953). Science and human behavior. New York,: Macmillan. ISBN 0029290406. OCLC 191686. 
  2. ^ David., Pierce, W. (2004). Behavior analysis and learning. Cheney, Carl D. (3rd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 9780805844894. OCLC 51566296. 
  3. ^ O., Cooper, John (2007). Applied behavior analysis. Heron, Timothy E., Heward, William L., 1949- (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill-Prentice Hall. ISBN 0131421131. OCLC 74942760.