ABA Prep, dinner, and marriage


I am considering sitting for the Certified Behavioral Consultant Canine test in May 2017, and studying a little in preparation. It is causing some interesting phone calls between the wife and me.

Wife: Hi, honey, how is it going?
Me: good, good just studying.
Wife: you don’t sound so good; are you okay?

Me: I am fine, really. You might just say the law of effect is impacting, via instrumental conditioning, my enthusiasm for study of Applied Behavioral Analysis synonymous-phrase study.

Wife: What the fuck are you talking about? Synonymous-phrases?

Me: Yes, well, on some of these quiz questions I know the answer, but didn’t understand the question because they are using arcane terms. For instance: “three-term contingency” is the discriminative stimulus which motivated my behavior of studying Behaviorism phrase synonyms, with the anticipated consequential reinforcement of passing the CBCC exam. They could just say antecedent, behavior, consequence, but nooooo, it’s a three-term contingency: discriminative stimulus, operant response, and reinforcer/punisher. How is that different you might ask (and I am glad you asked!), from the ABC sequence we all learned in dog-training books, well let me tell you –

Wife: Oh God, no, please don’t…It’s a good thing I love you. I’ll see you later, okay? Have a good day, and don’t study too hard.

Me: The anticipated desired stimulus of passing the exam is, so far this morning, almost nullified by the apprehension I feel regarding the undesired stimulus related to not passing the exam.

Wife: sigh. <click>


Me: hey are you busy?
Wife: well, I am at work, so… yeah?
Me: okay, this will just take a second.
Wife: no problem, what’s up?
Me: I am learning a new behavior: the studying and memorization of ABA terminology. To learn this behavior the fastest and most effectively, I should be on a schedule of continuous reinforcement

Wife:  ...and?

Me: so I think to help me study, you should make me dinner tonight. And tomorrow night. And every night until I pass the test.

Wife: It’s your turn to cook, and I am working all day. You said you only have two appointments today.

Me:  Well, sure, a schedule of intermittent reinforcement is likely to be more resistant to extinction, but I really don’t feel ready for that; I think I still need continuous reinforcement, preferably with a primary reinforcer; if not food, well… you know there are four primary reinforcers, right? Air, Food, Sex, and Water? If you won’t make me food, and I have plenty of air and water… hubba hubba, wink, wink, know what I mean? Know what I mean?
Wife: …I have to get back to work…

Me: You know, premature partial reinforcement schedules often lead to the Partial Reinforcement Effect, otherwise known as extinction. You withholding primary reinforcers could ruin my chances at passing the test. I really think you should make dinner, tonight. Seriously.

Wife: …<click>


Wife: What do you want, behavior boy?

Me: ouch, that hurts. You know, positive punishment, even verbal, does have a respondent effect as well. “Pavlov is always on your shoulder,” babe. Bob Bailey said that. He is amazing.  You should see his chicken videos.  Did you know that he married Marian Breland? Remember I was telling you about her?

Wife: Sigh. What do you want, behavior boy?

Me: Oh right. I was calling about dinner. I hope you’re in the mood for shellfish. We’re having scallops tonight, since I am cooking.

Wife: uhhh not my favorite, but you’re the cook. Wait… you don’t even like shellfish. Why are you making scallops?

Me: I am glad you asked! You see, your insistence on adherence to taking turns making dinner will lead to a fixed-interval schedule of reinforcement, which will lead to a scalloped learning curve. Scalloped learning curve, scallops for dinner! Hahah get it? Scallops? Hello? Honey? Hello?

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