HOW TO DEVELOP COVERT POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
Cautela, J. R., & Kearney, A. J. (1986). The covert conditioning handbook. New York, NY: Springer (pp. 31-38)
Covert positive reinforcement (CPR) is a technique in which an individual imaginatively reinforces him/herself immediately after performing a desired behavior in real-life or imagery. It is imperative to use CPR if behavior change is to be effected. Without reinforcement behaviors will not be altered consistently, predictably, or to any significant degree.
- CPR is used to increase the likelihood of performing a behavior.
- The imagination of positive scenes/behaviors and consequences should be combined in the same paradigm structure as used in overt operant conditioning.
- Chains of behaviors can be constructed using CPR for complex behavior sequences. Normally, the progression for such scenes would be in reverse order (i.e., backward chaining).
- CPR is the covert analog of overt operant conditioning including emotional components. Emotions in imagery should be encouraged.
- Instructions to develop CPR have been successfully adapted to audiotapes.
- Relaxation is not an integral feature of the technique. It need only be used with anxious individuals or in early instruction as a means to facilitate image clarity and control. Studies have shown that relaxation is not necessarily helpful but it certainly does not hinder a procedure.
- CPR is just as effective as systematic desensitization although the two have different procedural steps and features.
- When using CPR in covert modeling and imagery, an operant conditioning explanation more fully accounts for results than does a counterconditioning explanation.
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