Dana Do’s: Confused by Matching Law and Behavioral Contrast?

People seem to be confusing matching law and behavioral contrast. These are two terms cover distinctly different territory, so let’s figure out why. Think of matching law as the law of human behavior which describes people’s behavioral choices based on response efforts and proportional reinforcement for that chosen behavior.

For example: I choose to go to bed early. Although that may be hard, it feels so good to be well rested. But on other nights, I might stay up because it’s more fun, and being tired is worth it. This is a natural phenomenon. We incorporate it into ABA when we contrive schedules of reinforcement with our clients to be proportional to their response effort. When you work harder, you get better rewards. When you don’t work as hard, you still get good rewards but not as good.

Behavioral contrast, also a natural phenomena, helps us understand behavior change as it occurs in different settings or conditions. When a behavior contacts reinforcement and increases in one setting, or contacts punishment or extinction and decreases in that one setting. This behavior is likely to have a contrast effect in the setting that does not have these consequences or contingencies.

For example: I discover the best coffee is in a new coffee shop. I’m going to go there more often. The old coffee shop is going to see less of me, even though there was nothing wrong or different. It’s just a contrast effect. There is no choosing behaviors. There is no response effort and proportional reinforcement.

With contrast, we have consequences in one setting that affect behavior in a different setting for the worse, even though nothing changed in that setting. Punishment at school decreases the punished behavior at school. But in contrast, that same behavior increases at home, even though nothing changes at home. It was just that contrast to the behavior change in the school setting.

We need to know about this. We need to understand it, and even plan for it.

The takeaway: two natural human behavior phenomena rooted in consequences. One has to do with behavior and the relative availability of reinforcement. The other has to do with behavior change due to consequences in another setting.

  • B-5   Define and provide examples of schedules of reinforcement.
  • Behavioral Contrast
  • Matching Law
  • Mini Mocks B
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  • Section B
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    Test your understanding of antecedents and behavior change with PTB co-founder Dana Meller. Here she explains the distinction between Sᵈs and MOs, explores their evocative function, and discusses how they can alter our behavioral repertoire when combined. Through relatable examples, Dana illustrates the importance of understanding the interplay between Sᵈs and MOs in behavior change. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-10: Define and provide examples of stimulus control and B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations.
  • Break Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Use the Dimensions of ABA to Identify, "What Makes Us Behavioral?"Break Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Use the Dimensions of ABA to Identify, "What Makes Us Behavioral?"
    Test your Philosophical Underpinnings knowledge with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews a BCBA® mock exam question that breaks down the dimensions of ABA, identifying the specific dimension that describes the defining features of a behavior analyst. Included is a description of each of the answer options, determinism, empiricism, applied, and behavioral. Refer to the BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section A-5: Describe and define the dimensions of applied behavior analysis (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968).
  • Programming for Generalization: Expanding Skills Beyond the Learning EnvironmentProgramming for Generalization: Expanding Skills Beyond the Learning Environment
    There are seven ways to program for generalization. PTB co-founder Dana Meller dives into "Indiscriminable Contingencies". Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-11: Define and provide examples of discrimination, generalization, and maintenance; G-21: Use procedures to promote stimulus and response generalization.
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Understanding Behavior-Altering EffectsTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Understanding Behavior-Altering Effects
    Test your terminology. PTB co-founder Dana Meller explains the umbrella term, "Motivating Operations" and breaks down the sub-categories. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations.
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Explore the 2 Types of Negative ReinforcementTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Explore the 2 Types of Negative Reinforcement
    Test your understanding of negative reinforcement with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she discusses the two specific types and details and nuances using relatable examples that significantly impact our everyday lives. BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-4: Define and provide examples of positive and negative reinforcement contingencies and G-1: Use positive and negative reinforcement procedures to strengthen behavior.
  • Hungry by Association: The Conditioned Motivating Operation Behind TV Ad CravingsHungry by Association: The Conditioned Motivating Operation Behind TV Ad Cravings
    Put your knowledge of motivating operations to the test. PTB co-founder Dana Meller dives into a specific type of CMO and explains how seemingly innocuous visuals on TV ads can trigger a state of deprivation for the advertised item, resembling the effects of an unconditioned motivating operation. Dana presents an intriguing example highlighting the process of pairing and the associations that can unexpectedly ignite intense cravings. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations and G-2 Use interventions based on motivating operations and discriminative stimuli.
  • BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Understanding Respondent-Operant InteractionsBreaking Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Understanding Respondent-Operant Interactions
    Test your behavior-change procedures skills with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews a BCBA® mock exam question that explores respondent-operant interactions, comparing and contrasting habilitation, habituation and adaptation, with an emphasis on the importance of reinforcement. The breakdown touches on operant conditioning and its role in behavior change. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-3: Define and provide examples of respondent and operant conditioning.
  • Verbal Operants: Understanding the Roles of Speaker and Listener in a ConversationVerbal Operants: Understanding the Roles of Speaker and Listener in a Conversation
    Test your verbal behavior knowledge with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews verbal operants, the roles of the speaker and listener. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-14: Define and provide examples of the verbal operants
  • Test your ABA Terminology: Identify the Stimulus ClassTest your ABA Terminology ➠ Identify the Stimulus Class
    Test your knowledge of concepts and principles as PTB co-founder Dana Meller reviews a question about identifying a specific type of stimulus class, and the features associated with the three main stimulus class variations. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-2: Define and provide examples of stimulus and stimulus class.
  • BCBA® Mock Exam Question Breakdown: Understanding Respondent ConditioningBreaking Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Understanding Respondent Conditioning
    Test your concepts and principles skills with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews a BCBA® mock exam question about respondent conditioning, breaking down the process. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-3: Define and provide examples of respondent and operant conditioning.
  • Test Your ABA Terminology: What Are The 3 Types of ExtinctionTest Your ABA Terminology ➠ What Are The 3 Types of Extinction?
    Test your knowledge of Concepts & Principles and Behavior-Change Procedures with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she reviews the different types of operant extinction procedures. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-9: Define and provide examples of operant extinction, G-15: Use extinction.
  • Mastering the ABCs of BehaviorPTB's Special ABA Sauce: Mastering the ABCs of Behavior
    Test your understanding of the ABCs of Behavior with PTB co-founder Dana Meller as she analyzes a tasty scenario to identify the MO, SD, prompt, behavior, and consequence using PTB's special ABC breakdown method. Discover how ordering extra sauce serves as a perfect example to unravel the intricate relationship between MOs, deprivation, SDs, and reinforcement. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-1: Define and provide examples of behavior, response, and response class, B-10: Define and provide examples of stimulus control, B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations and G-4: Use stimulus and response prompts and fading (e.g., errorless, most-to-least, least-to-most, prompt delay, stimulus fading).
  • Dana Do's: Discriminating Between Masking and Overshadowing
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller offers detailed examples to help students better discriminate between two often confusing concepts: masking vs. overshadowing.
  • Dana Do's: Confused About Automatic and Socially Mediated Reinforcement?
    It’s not wrong to associate sterotypic behaviors with automatic reinforcement— but there are other factors to consider. PTB co-founder Dana Meller offers a quick explainer to clear up the confusion. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-7: Define and provide examples of automatic and socially mediated contingencies.
  • The concepts of punishment and reinforcement can sometimes confuse exam candidates. PTB co-founder Dana Meller clears things up, explaining nuances between the two and sharing her tips for making better discriminations on exam day. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-4: Define and provide examples of positive and negative reinforcement contingencies and B-6: Define and provide examples of positive and negative punishment contingencies.Dana Do's: Let's Clear Up the Confusion Between Punishment and Reinforcement
    The concepts of punishment and reinforcement can sometimes confuse exam candidates. PTB co-founder Dana Meller clears things up, explaining nuances between the two and sharing her tips for making better discriminations on exam day.
  • ABA terms you need to know: contiguityMaster your ABA Terminology ➠ Exploring Contiguity & the Importance of Timing
    Let's take a quick dive into the concept of contiguity, in both respondent and operant conditioning. PTB co-founder Dana Meller explains its significance in understanding behavior change processes. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-3: Define and provide examples of respondent and operant conditioning.
  • The connection between environment & behavior.Breaking Down the Intricate Connection Between Environment & Behavior
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses the term environment in connection with a term defined as a physical event that influences how individuals interact with the world around them Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-2: Define and provide examples of stimulus and stimulus class.
  • ABA Terminology Challenge ➠ Respondent-Operant Interactions
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses the simultaneous occurrence of respondent and operant conditioning, clarifying the differences between the two and how they influence behavior. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-3: Define and provide examples of respondent and operant conditioning.
  • Let's break down a BCBA® mock exam question: satiated vs satisfied.Let's Break Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Satiated and Satisfied— Understanding Motivating Operations
    Sharpen your ABA principles skills as PTB co-founder Dana Meller breaks down a BCBA® mock exam question about motivating operations (MOs) and their influence on behavior. Learn the process of identifying the correct answer while gaining a deeper understanding of MOs and their behavior-altering effects. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations.
  • PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses two concepts that fall under negative reinforcement, breaks down their differences, and explains how they operate in various situations. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-4: Define and provide examples of positive and negative reinforcement contingencies; and G-1: Use positive and negative reinforcement procedures to strengthen behavior.Don't Get Caught in the Rain...Without Your Negative Reinforcement Umbrella
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses two concepts that fall under negative reinforcement, breaks down their differences, and explains how they operate in various situations. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-4: Define and provide examples of positive and negative reinforcement contingencies; and G-1: Use positive and negative reinforcement procedures to strengthen behavior.
  • Discover how environmental variable evokes problem-solving behaviors to gain access to the desired item. With real-life examples, PTB co-founder Dana Meller sheds light on the significance of this variable in manding programs and various situations. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations.Supercharge Your Problem-Solving Skills to Identify the CMO in the Scenario
    Discover how environmental variable evokes problem-solving behaviors to gain access to the desired item. With real-life examples, PTB co-founder Dana Meller sheds light on the significance of this variable in manding programs and various situations. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations.
  • ABA terms you need to know: negative reinforcement vs. extinction.ABA Terminology Challenge ➠ Negative Punishment vs. Extinction
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller provides insight to better understand why these concepts can be confusing, despite both leading to a decrease in behavior. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-6: Define and provide examples of positive and negative punishment contingencies; and B-9: Define and provide examples of operant extinction.
  • Motivating Operations ➠ Exploring the Future Impact of Behavior
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses a powerful concept that explores the influence of consequences on behavior in the presence of an MO. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-12: Define and provide examples of motivating operations.
  • Let's break down a BCBA® mock exam question about stimulus controlLet's Break Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Stimulus Control & Game-Changing Learning Factors
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller breaks down a BCBA® mock exam question that distills the factors that affect stimulus control in behavior analysis. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-10: Define and provide examples of stimulus control.
  • PTB co-founder Dana Meller clarifies the concepts, providing examples to help better understand these crucial distinctions and addresses common misconceptions between point-to-point correspondence and formal similarity. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-14: Define and provide examples of the verbal operants.Test your Verbal Behavior Terminology ➠ Point-to-Point Correspondence vs. Formal Similarity
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller clarifies the concepts, providing examples to help better understand these crucial distinctions and addresses common misconceptions between point-to-point correspondence and formal similarity. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-14: Define and provide examples of the verbal operants.
  • PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses the concept of stimulus control, explaining the function of the Sᴰ.Coffee Quandary: Stimulus Control & Absence of Reinforcement in the Pursuit of Hydration
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller discusses the concept of stimulus control, explaining the function of the Sᴰ. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-10: Define and provide examples of stimulus control.
  • ABA terms you need to know.Test your ABA Terminology ➠ Operant vs. Respondent Extinction
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller explains the differences between operant and respondent extinction procedures and how these procedures reduce challenging behaviors and diminish reflex responses in behavior management and conditioning. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-3: Define and provide examples of respondent and operant conditioning.
  • Let's break down a BCBA® mock exam question.Let's Break Down a BCBA® Mock Exam Question: Hypothesize the Function of Disruptive Behavior in Circle Time
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller breaks down a BCBA® mock exam question, exploring various possibilities, automatic, unconditioned, negative, and positive reinforcement, to better understand the reasons behind the behavior in this scenario. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Sections B-4: Define and provide examples of positive and negative reinforcement contingencies.; and G-1: Use positive and negative reinforcement procedures to strengthen behavior.
  • PTB co-founder Dana Meller addresses the impact of biases and stereotypes based on common attributes like skin color, gender, race, religion, and nationality, emphasizing the need for positive change and fairness in our responses toward others. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-11: Define and provide examples of discrimination, generalization, and maintenance.An ABA Lens on Racial Inequality, Biases, and Stereotypes
    PTB co-founder Dana Meller addresses the impact of biases and stereotypes based on common attributes like skin color, gender, race, religion, and nationality, emphasizing the need for positive change and fairness in our responses toward others. Refer to BCBA® Task List (5th ed.) Section B-11: Define and provide examples of discrimination, generalization, and maintenance.
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