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The Power of Shaping in Behavior Modification
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The Power of Shaping in Behavior Modification
Shaping is an essential behavioral procedure within the field of behavior modification. In
Chapter 9 of “Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures” by Raymond G. Miltenberger,
the concept of shaping is explored as a powerful and extremely potent tool for modifying and
acquiring behavior. Shaping involves differentially reinforcing successive approximations of a
target behavior until the individual exhibits the desired behavior. It is a method widely used to
develop behaviors that individuals do not currently display (Miltenberger, 2011, p. 160). This
makes it a handy approach in various areas like education, therapy, and parenting.
Successive Approximations
Successive approximations simply known as shaping steps are at the heart of the shaping
process. These are behaviors that incrementally and gradually become more similar to the
desired target behavior. This gradual progression is critical as it breaks down complex or
unfamiliar behaviors into smaller and more manageable steps. For example, when teaching a
child to talk, shaping involves initially reinforcing babbling and then single words and ultimately
full sentences. The gradual nature of shaping makes it easier for individuals to acquire skills and
behaviors that might seem intimidating and too big when viewed as a whole (Miltenberger …
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