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.

  1. CPR is used to increase the likelihood of performing a behavior.
  2. The imagination of positive scenes/behaviors and consequences should be combined in the same paradigm structure as used in overt operant conditioning.
  3. 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).
  4. CPR is the covert analog of overt operant conditioning including emotional components. Emotions in imagery should be encouraged.

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