Selection and creation processes involved in shaping of novel behavior: Method and theory

Dr. Iver Iversen
Keynote address given at the 2016 Conference

This presentation will illustrate processes that take place during the shaping of novel behavior using examples from research on acquisition of novel behavior ranging from “simple” lever presses in rats to complex drawing in apes. Experiments will illustrate the processes that take place in behavior acquisition when the standard procedures are “slowed down” by making responses more complex. The role of strengthening of behavior by reinforcement, maintenance of behavior by reinforcement, variability of behavior induced by extinction and appearance of “novel” forms of behavior will be analyzed in detail. An important distinction will be drawn between behavior selected by consequences and behavior created by consequences. An essential emphasis of the presentation will be on direct recording of behavior and of analysis of such behavioral data for discovery of basic behavior processes and for decisions regarding when a behavioral technique actually works.

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