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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!

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