Psychology 207


Spring 2006

Paul K. Brandon AH-30 389-6217

 The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the field of Behavior Analysis : the science and technology of behavior. What distinguishes this discipline from other types of psychology is that we will look at the behavior of living organisms as a subject matter in its own right; rather than as a tool for studying something else, such as psyche or mind.

This course will be based on the unit/mastery model; itself a product of behavior analysis. Your grade will be based on points earned as you master units in the text APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS, by Paul Chance, 1998) and laboratory experiments. There will be no midterm or final examinations.

The Chance text should be available at the bookstores.

There are also two recommended books:
Paulos, John Allen (1990). Innumeracy
Strunk, William and White, E.B. (2000).
The Elements of Style (4th ed)

The science of Behavior Analysis is called the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.
It is distinguished by its emphasis on the experimental study of the behavior of individuals, rather than groups.

We will study this aspect of behavior analysis both from the text, and by doing and reporting experiments. These experiments are described in the Laboratory Manual (to be available at the Morris Hall Copy Shoppe)

There will be two experiments using human subjects, four using animals, and one optional experiment which you will design. I will demonstrate and describe each week's experiment on Mondays at 10:00am.

Mastery of the experiments will be demonstrated by writing lab reports. The criterion for mastery is at least 22 out of a possible 25 points, according to the grading system explained in the manual. This mastery criterion (22/25 points) will be in effect for the first three lab reports. Only the Abstract, Results, Discussion and raw data need be handed in for the rest of the reports The only exception is the (optional) last project, where a complete report will be required. These reports will be graded on an OK/rewrite basis.

Reports may be rewritten up to two times if necessary to demonstrate mastery.

Experiments will be introduced on Mondays.

The Tuesday meetings will be devoted to running the current experiment. This may continue on Thursday.

Reports must be typed, double-spaced! There is no way that I (or my graduate assistant) can read and grade 40-odd (some very odd!) handwritten reports. I would like to get them back to you before the next one is due, so that you don't have to make the same mistakes twice. This means, of course, that you must turn your papers in reasonably promptly. An occasional day or two late is not a big deal. However, papers may not be accepted more than one week after the assigned due date without a written excuse from me!

The technology of behavior analysis is referred to as Applied Behavior Analysis. The basic findings of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior are applied to human behavior. This aspect will be covered primarily in the text. Mastery of the text will be demonstrated by getting a score of 9/10 or better on a unit quiz on the text. The units are defined below. Quizzes will be given on Mondays after experiment demonstrations, AV presentations, etc. There will also be testing opportunities at the beginning of class on Thursdays. When (and only when) you have demonstrated mastery of a unit by passing a unit quiz you may proceed to the next unit.

This course will use domestic rats as subjects. Since we are now under Federal animal care regulations the University will purchase the rats. You will each be assigned one as your subject for this quarter. Hopefully, the human subject experiments will be completed during the scheduled lab times; the room is scheduled rather tightly! The Animal Lab is operated on an open basis, and will be available to you at any time between 10am and 4pm, M-F that another class is not scheduled to use it.

As a final note:

It's a good idea to keep copies of all of your work, including computer backups and graded papers. Professors and graduate assistants are no more perfect than anyone else, and inevitably there will be questions about grades, and whether papers were handed in or not.

It will be assumed that any material handed in under a student's name represents the work of that student, and that student only. Quotations from the literature must be cited appropriately.

Submitting anyone else's work under your name is plagiarism and will be dealt with according to University policy. Falsifying or fabricating data is of course also a no-no! For a more detailed explanation of what constitutes plagiarism see the Laboratory Manual.

I would certainly encourage you to help each other in reporting the experiments. This does not, however, mean that the work can be divided up among several students. If the same work is submitted by more than one student, the grade for that work will be divided by the number of students submitting it!

Similarly, a paper must be submitted for only one course unless you have the explicit written approval of both instructors involved!


Some ground rules:

1.Test units must be mastered in sequence.

Only one test may be taken per day!

2. Reports must be mastered in sequence. Each report may be rewritten twice.
You will not receive credit for a report until you have demonstrated mastery of the previous one.

You may hand in a paper before you have demonstrated mastery of the preceding one -- it just won't be credited towards your grade until the previous paper is mastered.

Append your original report to the complete revision of the report when you hand it in.


Grade Contract:

A: 17 points

B: 14 points (including at least the first three reports)

C: 12 points (including at least the first two reports)

D: 10 points (including at least the first report)

You will earn one point for each successive unit mastered, and for each experiment mastered.


  • The text units are defined below. Please test on one unit at a time!
  • Note that Units may include more than one chapter.

Unit 1:

The ABC's of Behavior Analysis

pp vii - 41

Unit 2:


pp 43 - 94

Unit 3:


pp 95 - 136

Unit 4:

Prompting, Fading, Shaping and Chaining

pp 137 - 196

Unit 5:

Extinction and Differential Reinforcement

pp 197 - 238

Unit 6:


pp 239 - 274

Unit 7:

Discrimination training

pp 275 - 300

Unit 8:

Generalization and maintenance

pp 301 - 362

Unit 9:

Respondent Conditioning

pp 363 - 396

Unit 10:

Ethics and the Future

pp 397 - 432

Unit 11:


pp 433 - 463



Since our lab has been taken over (in a somewhat friendly acquisition) by the Academic Computing Center there may be some software compatibility problems to resolve with the new machines.


Reaction time
We will use a microcomputer to measure how long it takes human subjects to respond to light, sound and textual stimuli in simple and choice reaction time situations.

Choice behavior

We will investigate the effectiveness of two possible sources of control over human behavior: ESP and consequences. The latter will be studied in the context of a video game!

Shaping and CRF

In this experiment we will teach a laboratory rat to press a lever in an operant conditioning chamber for a drink of sweetened water.

Extinction and spontaneous recovery

Continuing our investigation of operant conditioning, we will examine the permanence of the loss of behavior resulting from the withdrawal of reinforcement.

Fixed interval schedule behavior

Now we will reinforce lever pressing on a schedule; after sixty seconds and after thirty seconds. We will also look at the transition between these two schedules.

Stimulus discrimination

Finally we will add the element of stimulus control, teaching the beasts to respond only when a light is on.

Individual experiments

Now, design your own experiment, either human or animal. If you need ideas, an Intro Psych text can be a good resource!

Note: Since there are 17 course units required for a grade of A you may either do this project or master the last text unit.

Intro Behavior Analysis: Spring 2006

Note that since this is a unit mastery course, at any given time different students will be working on different units. Therefore, the films are in the sequence that the topics appear in the text, but may not be in the unit that a given student is working on. I've given some rough target dates for completing units to give you something to shoot for in completing the course.
(this schedule may be changed with notice)






Week's Quiz target



What is Behavior Analysis?


Complete unit 1: ABC's of Behavior Analysis



B.F.Skinner, a Reappraisal (video)

Read the Lab Manual through Experiment 1


Complete Unit 2: Methods



Behavior Principles for Parents (film/activity)

Experiment 1: Hand in the Introductio, Method and Reference sections



Reporting Results

Online journals

Experiment 1: Reaction Time (now hand in the complete report )


Unit 3: Reinforcement



Statistical Analysis

Experiment 2:

Choice Behavior




CyberRat (computer simulation) and shaping

Computer exercises on shaping

Unit 4: Prompting, Fading, Shaping and Chaining



Live shaping demo

Experiment 3:

Continuous Reinforcement


Unit 5: Extinction and Differential Reinforcement



Barnabus (film)

Unit 6: Punishment







Patient Like The Chipmunks (video)

Experiment 4:



Unit 7: Discrimination Training



Awesome Operant Behavior (video)



Cognition, Creativity and Behavior (video)

Experiment 5:

Fixed Interval Schedule


Unit 8: Generalization and Maintenance.



Analyzing schedule behavior

Unit 9: Respondent Conditioning



Token Economies (video)

Experiment 6:

Stimulus Control


Unit 10: Ethics and the Future



Experiment 7:

Do-it-yourself (optional)


Unit 11: Review







Last chances to



Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities.If you are a student with a documented disability, please see me as early in the semester as possible to discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disabilities Services Office at (507)389-2825 (V) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY).