Chaining: how to apply this technique and what types are there
One of the behavior modification techniques that Burrhus F. Skinner systematized in the process of developing his operant learning paradigm, which is based on the association of certain responses with obtaining reinforcers or punishments. In this article we will analyze what is the chain, how is it applied and what types are there .
- Related article: "5 behavior modification techniques"
What is chaining?
The chain is one behavioral technique that is part of the operant learning paradigm . It is used to develop new chains of behavior (that is, complex sequences composed of a pre-established series of simple answers) from other behaviors that are already in the subject's repertoire.
Some typical examples of learning that can be developed through this technique are those that allow for elaborate behaviors such as playing a musical instrument or driving a vehicle. Chaining is often used to teach basic skills to children with special needs , how to put on clothes or clean up without help.
The responses that make up the behavioral chain act as conditioned reinforcers of the previous behavior and as discriminative stimuli for the next one. There are two logical exceptions to this: the first response, which does not reinforce any other, and the last, which does not act as a signal for a subsequent behavior.
A similar operant technique is molding, also known as "successive approaches method". The central difference is that in the molding a behavior is progressively perfected using differential reinforcement, while chaining consists of combining a series of responses in a certain order.
- Related article: "Operant conditioning: concepts and main techniques"
How to apply this operant technique
In order to use chaining properly, it is very important to take into account a series of recommendations. First of all, as far as possible, select behaviors that the learner has already mastered in order to maximize the effectiveness of the procedure; In addition, these should be as simple as possible or divided into simpler segments.
The behaviors, or links of the chain, that are necessary and that the subject does not dominate must be developed during the process. Some operant techniques that can be helpful in this regard are modeling, modeling, physical guidance and verbal instruction.
It is preferable that the reinforcement be of a social nature , as congratulations and smiles, instead of material, since the behaviors acquired thanks to this kind of reinforcers are maintained to a greater extent. It is also important to use fading in order to eliminate from the chain support behaviors that may have been learned collaterally.
- Maybe you're interested: "Dictionary of Psychology: 200 fundamental concepts"
The 5 types of chain
Chaining can be applied in several different ways. First we must distinguish between the chaining by total and partial task ; in one the trainee must execute all the steps of the behavioral sequence in each trial, while in the other the chain is divided into several segments and these are taught separately before combining them.
At the same time the chaining by partial task It can be subdivided into four different types : forward chaining, backward chaining, pure partial and progressive partial. Let's see what each one of them consists of.
1. Through total task
The basic type of chaining corresponds roughly with the procedures we have described so far. In these cases the person who learns carries out in order all the behaviors that make up the chain in each of the training exercises. The reinforcement is provided once the behavioral sequence has been completed.
In this type of partial chaining behaviors are taught one by one, starting the chain again each time a new segment is added. A) Yes, first the first link is executed and a reinforcement is obtained ; subsequently the first behavior of the chain is carried out again and then the second, and so on.
The partial backward chaining is carried out in opposite manner to the previous type, although the scheme is very similar: the person executes the last response of the chain and gets a reinforcement; later it has to do the same with the penultimate one and later with the last one again to obtain the reinforcement, etc.
4. Pure partial
In pure partial chaining behaviors are taught one by one, generally following a linear order (like that of forward chaining). In this case it is not necessary to execute any other response of the chain except the one that is working to get the reinforcer, although finally an integration must take place.
5. Progressive part
This type of chaining is similar to the previous one although the reinforcement is more gradual, as the name suggests. It would consist, for example, in rewarding the execution of the first behavior of the chain, then that of the second, then the combination of both, then that of the third ..., until reaching the reinforcement of the entire chain.
- Maybe you're interested: "Behaviorism: history, concepts and main authors"