Behaviorism is the idea that the environment shapes all behavior. To control yourself, take steps to exercise control over your environment. B.F. Skinner, a forerunner of the behaviorist school of psychology, theorized that human beings behave the way they do because they have been conditioned by their environment to do so. According to this view, all behaviors are therefore learned responses shaped by external factors. Skinner pioneered the concept of operant conditioning, a process in which behavior is shaped by reinforcement and punishment.
Reinforcement pertains to those consequences of a behavior that make that behavior more likely to occur again in the future. Positive reinforcement involves the provision of a pleasant or rewarding consequence, while negative reinforcement consists of removing an unpleasant circumstance after a certain behavior. Both types of reinforcement condition a person to repeat the behavior in the time to come. Punishment, in contrast with reinforcement, is anything that makes a behavior less likely to occur again in the future.
When a behavior is punished, the person learns to avoid doing the same behavior again.
You can use principles of conditioning to set up your life in such a way that your environment supports your self-discipline instead of undermining it.
Make an honest assessment of your environment and try to identify the external factors that influence and shape your behavior.
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Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition.
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