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The purpose of this assignment is for students to demonstrate and apply their knowledge of operant conditioning principles and methods used to assess the efficacy of a behaviour modification program.

Behaviour modification is a process where a specific target behaviour is systematically changed using conditioning principles. It has been used very successfully for many different types of problems in a variety of contexts (such as schools, businesses, hospitals, mental health facilities and with animals). One valuable contribution has been helping people change their own behaviour (self-modification).


For this assignment, students are required to write a Behaviour Modification Research Proposal on a chosen behaviour (see below), using the principles and theories of behaviour modification and behavioural research designs and methods. The purpose of this assignment is twofold:

  1. To design a behaviour modification program to modify a target behaviour using theprinciples of operant conditioning (NOT classical conditioning). You can design a behaviour modification program to increase a desired behaviour or reduce a problem behaviour (from the list provided).
  2. To propose an appropriate research or experimental design that would test/monitor theefficacy of your intervention (behaviour modification) 


 You are required to select ONE of the following scenarios for the assignment. Design an intervention program to change/modify:

  • Caffeineintake
  • Fruitand vegetable intake
  • Physicalactivity
  • Cigarettesmoking
  • Alcoholconsumption
  • Sugarconsumption
  • Socialmedia/smart device use

The aim of the assignment is to change an observable behaviour using principles of operant conditioning. You are required to be objective in designing the behaviour modification plan and in proposing an evaluation design to test it. Note that if you base the assignment on a behaviour that you personally identify with it can be more difficult. Note: Do not choose a behaviour that

is distressing to you. If you do experience distress, please utilise student support and well-being services.


 You are expected to produce a research proposal that demonstrates your understanding of behaviour modification, the use of operant conditioning principles in interventions designed to change behaviour, and the relevant methods used to assess the efficacy of a behaviour modification intervention. You are expected to source your own references relevant to your topic.



 The word limit is 1200 words in length (+/-10%). This word count includes in-text citations but not the reference list. Any words exceeding 10% over the limit will not be read by markers and will not contribute to your mark for the assignment.

Your Behaviour Modification Research Proposal should be formatted according to APA (7th edition) guidelines, including (but not limited to) headings, double spacing, citations and references. It needs to be structured according to the headings provided below and should include the components outlined under each heading. Students will be marked on the research proposal according to a marking rubric provided on Canvas.

Not that some of the proposal is like a laboratory report in some ways however other sections are different. If you have not written a laboratory report previously please email carly.pymont@canberra.edu.au for some additional support

Organise your assignment as follows:

Title of Paper (accurate description in less than 12 words)

Background (note that you do not need to include this as a heading in the proposal as this section acts as an introduction. However, you do need to provide a title of the paper)

  • Introduceand define behaviour modification using empirical 
  • Provide a brief structured and coherent rationale, using empirical sources, for thedevelopment of a behaviour modification plan for the target behaviour you have selected. Why is operant conditioning appropriate in this situation?
  • Define the aim of the Behaviour Modification proposal (e.g., increase or decrease targetbehaviour and to what degree).

Proposed Behaviour Modification Plan

Provide a full description of the behaviour modification program you propose for the target behaviour, and ensure you explain how, why, when, and where you propose to change (either by increasing or decreasing) the target behaviour according to operant conditioning principles. Include references and empirical resources to support and justify your proposed program.

Ensure you include the following:

  • Define Target behaviour. Provide an appropriate operational definition of the target
  • Reinforcement schedule. Describe the reinforcement program you would propose based onoperant conditioning principles and justify it (including, where relevant, why you have selected particular reinforcement schedules and not others, what appropriate reward or punishments might be and why) using empirical 
  • Discuss any challenges or barriers that may need to be identified oraddressed in implementing the plan and how they managed.

Evaluation Design

This section provides an opportunity to propose and plan a research design that will test the efficacy of your behaviour modification program. This section is similar to the Methods section in a scientific report and should include details as described below:

  • Participant/s.Who is targeted in the program (age, and gender of participant). Their

presenting level of target behaviour and “recruitment”.

  • Describe the design proposed to assess the efficacy of the behaviour modificationplan (e.g., experimental, survey, interview, observation). Lecture 1 might help here
  • Materials & Measures. Describe and justify what measures or equipment will be used toassess the success of the program and when these will be implemented. Materials for the reinforcement/punishment should be in the above section so these are the measurement – how by whom 
  • Briefly describe the procedure for the evaluation, including (where relevant)the timeline of the evaluation and its components, any ethical issues to consider.


  • Provide a reference list for all sources cited in the proposal (note, your reference list is notincluded in your word count).
  • In-text citations (note, these do contribute to your word count) and your reference list mustconform to the 7th edition format prescribed by the American Psychological Association

(APA). For further information on citations and references in psychological writing, students should refer to one of the writing for psychology texts outlined in the unit outline, or the 7th edition of the APA publication manual.

More details of what is needed in each section can be found in the marking rubric


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  • Posted on : March 31st, 2023
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