I vacillated between reporting the data and vaguely telling you the results of my analysis. I’ve decided on the latter because my journey needs to have some sort of anonymity to it. Let’s see what interesting things I’m finding out about myself and my behavior:
- I spend too much time on the couch (everyone say “duh”)
- Once on the couch, I stay on the couch
- I’ve never crossed off more than 5 things on my to-do list during a day (over promising and under-delivering to myself)
- My nutrition data explain a bit about how and why I’m not feeling as well as I could (especially in terms of low potassium levels – bring on the bananas and the potatoes)
- I could be more hydrated
- Most of my couch duty behavior is escape-maintained (which is surprising because I thought it would be more socially mediated) – in lay terms, I’m trying to escape the world as opposed to needing some external reinforcement.
So what should my plan be? I tell my students not to take on more behaviors than they can handle at one time, and never more than 3. I’m going to take this slowly and do one thing at a time. Starting tomorrow, I will try to increase my hydration and increase my intake of potassium-rich foods. I’m hoping that combo will increase my energy levels, and we’ll see if the escape behavior is in the same response class. If it is, I should see more increases in the couch potato area without intervention. Somehow I doubt that, but the data never lie.
I’m also wondering what role behavioral momentum has with regard to my couch potato lifestyle. You might remember momentum from high school physics (I’m sorry if that evokes nightmares – we had phun in physics where we phailed, too). Anyway, momentum refers to the tendency to stay in motion once motion is initiated. Same thing with behavior. The same behavior tends to persist unless it is disrupted in some way. Let’s test this out:
Say roast 10 times as fast as you can. I’ll wait. What do you put in a toaster?
If you said “toast,” that was behavioral momentum at work. Once we are positioned, working, and the reinforcers flow (in my case, getting that work graded and those papers written), it keeps going, and going, and going… You get the idea.
Now, most of the applied research is about how to get a response going – for example, getting a child with developmental disabilities to respond to commands. The most famous of this is the Hi-P sequence. Similar to the “Roast” example, you do a bunch of high-probability responses and then throw in a non-preferred one quickly. See Lee, 2010 for more information (this article is behind a paywall).
In the next post, I’m going to see how we can use behavioral momentum to (maybe) get me off the couch and into the world.