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Behavior modification is one of the many courses in a general undergraduate psychology curriculum. This course is usually taken after a series of prerequisites have been completed. Some prerequisite courses include introduction to psychology, statistics in psychology or experimental practices in psychology.
Psychology graduate degree programs might offer a behavior modification course as a seminar in which students look at case studies and discuss behavior modification topics in more detail. Students in these types of courses are sometimes required to conduct their own research and write a behavior assessment plan based on their own class lessons and findings. Graduate programs in psychology generally include a clinical and/or research component, depending on the program.
Common course topics include:
- Behavior conditioning
- Measuring behavior and change
- Operant behavior
- Behavior management
- Behavioral intervention
- Behavioral assessment
- Cognitive behavior modification
Behavior modification courses are about human behavior and how behavior can be changed or treated. Courses on behavior modification discuss reinforcement theory and how those techniques can be applied to positively or negatively affect human behavior. Students learn about methods, terminology and procedures used, as well as the development and history of behavior modification. Students also learn how to evaluate and read research papers that are based on behavior modification practices and procedures.
The objective of the course is to have students understand the basic principles of behavior modification, apply behavior modification strategies, examine and treat problematic behavior and enable self-management plans to modify different behaviors.
Some courses have the students practice these behavior modification strategies on themselves or on other individuals, in order to observe and record how these modifications occur in real life.
Usually, students are also required to do a psychological research report or project to demonstrate that they have learned behavior modification theories and know how to apply them in a professional setting.