TAGteaching Optimism?

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I saw a photo on Facebook the other day and it got me thinking. In the photo, a poster said they went to school with someone who used a clicker whenever they had an event or happening that made them feel good.  Then someone mused whether the clicker could elicit good feelings on its own when needed.

It makes pretty sound behavioral sense.  Clicker training has long been used with both animals and humans.  The idea is that the clicker is more precise than praise would be.  Here is a short video on an application of clicker training called TAGteach:

I’m a pessimist by nature.  In college, I was given a book 101 Reasons Why We’re Doomed. I got the message, but it’s still easy for me to see the problems and the reasons “why not.” According to the popular press, we are hardwired to see aversive stimuli and ignore the more pleasant stimuli in our environment.  I did a cursory lit review and didn’t come up with anything on that front, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t evidence to support it.  Nor could I find anything about the praise-to-corrective ratio of 5:1 often talked about.  Of course, if anyone has any references, I’ll be sure to add them.

Why couldn’t it be used to help with positivity?  If TAGTeach has been shown to teach behaviors such as golf swings, dance moves, and yoga poses, why not use it to increase well-being and positive general outlook?

I think it goes without saying that we could all use a little more positivity in academia. It is, by its nature, competitive and filled with rejection. My colleagues in other settings are often amazed at things like day-long interviews and the peer review process. How does one stay above it? 

When there are no data to support a research question, what should we as behavior analysts do?  Collect data, of course! Of course, positive outlook isn’t observable or measurable, but counting the number of “positive happenings” in my environment is. I won’t say that increases in counts of positive happenings is a proxy for my emotions – only I can know that for sure.  But, this seems like a reasonable way to see if self-monitoring using a clicker increases reports of positive daily events.

Unfortunately, the mechanism for data collection I’ll use will also be my feedback tool. I plan on using a counter (often either called a “golf counter” or a “church counter”) to provide both the click and the count. Therefore, it won’t really be a controlled experiment. I am looking forward to charting my progress using a Standard Celeration Chart. That way, I can see if noting positive happenings increases. Not JABA worthy, I know, but hey, what do I have to lose?

Are you going to try it?  Let me know – share your chart on the Facebook page!

Diet tracker update

Diet-wise, I’ve decided to go back to my trusty Sparkpeople.  The interface is clean, the price perfect, it works on all my devices, and it has most of the bells and whistles that the other apps have. By moving to other interfaces, I’m trying to fix something that isn’t broken, it seems. 

I did learn some good things about myself and diet and exercise in general from my experiment, even if it wasn’t tightly controlled. We’ll just call this qualitative? I do best with social support. My goals, even though I am a behavior analyst and should know better, tend to be a little nebulous and vague. That said, there are a few things I would like to study a bit more. It’ll be interesting to see if there are some takeaways that I can incorporate into my daily routine:

  • Daily Weigh-Ins. I’m wondering if this is a good  idea or not – it was a little frustrating to see my weight fluctuate by two pounds every other day.
  • Virtual Coaching v. Having a Live Coach. Not sure if synchronous v. asynchronous coaching is what I mean on this one. Is having a real person on the other end who is dedicated to answering your questions and checking in with you better than pre-recorded motivational and informational videos? 
  • Types of Self-Monitoring. What types of self-monitoring are best.  Does the advent of apps and automatic monitoring devices increase the likelihood of generalized and maintained behavior change?  

Having done a cursory lit search for this blog, it seems that I could do a full-on search and study on each of these topics. I just might do that!  As always, if you have a question or comment, please leave it in the comments section below!