Behavioral Mechanics Theory

OF. The theory of behavioral mechanics is the behavioral and psychological counterpart of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion in physics where the rate of responding in the psychologist's operant conditioning paradigm is analogous to the phenomenon of velocity in the field of physics. The three major propositions or principles of the theory of behavioral mechanics - which are considered to hold for groups as well as for individual organisms -may be stated as follows: once a course of action or behavior has been initiated, that particular behavior or course of action will continue until such time as a force may be imposed upon it; the strength of a course of action or behavior is characterized by its "behavioral momentum" whose two components are its "behavioral mass" and "behavioral velocity;" and when a force is imposed upon a course of action or behavior, that force produces a change in the behavioral momentum and that change evokes a "behavioral counter-force" that acts in opposition to the imposed force. In various empirical studies, the basic relation between the organisms' rate of responding and experimental sessions involving both fixed-interval and variable-interval schedules of reinforcement has yielded a power function which, in turn, yields functions for the specific behavioral variables of acceleration, mass, and momentum. In practical terms, this overall numerical approach allows behavioral force values to be assigned to diverse experimental conditions or scenarios, such as the clinical assessment of the behavioral influence/force of a medication dosage. See also OPERANT CONDITIONING

PARADIGM; OPERANT CONDITIONING/BEHAVIOR, LAWS/THEORY OF. REFERENCES

Dzendolet, E. (1999). On the theory of behavioral mechanics. Psychological Reports, 85, 707-742. Killeen, P. R. (1992). Mechanics of the animate. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 57, 429-463.

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