SIB & Efficiency

Topics: Truancy

The significance of identifying a target behavior cannot be understated; determining the function for portraying such behaviors is as equally substantial from an applied behavioral analysis standpoint. Whether one succeeds in gaining attention, escaping unwanted tasks, or continues satisfying a sensory need, the target behavior is utilized to retain a specific goal. Some target behaviors disrupt classrooms or meetings while others may pose potential dangers. Self-injurious behaviors, SIB, such as head banging and eye gouging, are reinforced by attention, escape, or sensory stimulation and necessitate abrupt intervention above all others as these behaviors pose imminent threats to a client’s health (Miltenberger, 2012).

Emily is several months into the first grade when she begins refusing to sleep in her bed, and when it is time to leave for school, Emily screams, cries, and bangs her head on the floor.

The nights when Emily keeps the entire family awake by screaming and interjecting herself into her parents’ room may be disruptive, however, Emily exhibits SIB by hitting her head on the floor. This existing exigency poses great threats to her safety and is the target behavior necessitating imminent intervention.

B.F. Skinner elaborated on the importance of how the consequences of behaviors can be important in modifying those actions initiating the emphasis of the ABC model (Miltenberger, 2012). ABC observations record causative events of a target behavior followed by any consequences resulting from the behavior (Miltenberger, 2012). The antecedent of Emily’s SIB is the requirement of attending school daily. The consequence of the target behavior, initially, is escaping a day in the classroom.

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This inadvertent reinforcement only encouraged Emily to continue SIB and even increase the frequency or intensity of the target behavior.

Emily’s parents reinforce the SIB by initially allowing her to stay home from school so Emily simply exacerbates her tantrums, screaming turned to head banging, as it was reinforced with her primary escape from school. This reinforcement developed stimulus control over the SIB which increases the frequency of the target behavior. Extinction of the target behavior eliminates escape from the task and is of supreme importance. Emily’s parents should physically guide Emily to the transport vehicle immediately before the initiation of her SIB. Miltenberger (2012) explains that physical guidance eradicates the potential to implement tactical behaviors of escaping an unwanted task. When Emily’s parents implement physical guidance, this absolves any opportunity for Emily to self-harm while partaking in an abolishing operation. Physical guidance is the most direct method of eliminating the imminent threat to Emily’s safety while reducing the opportunity of escaping the task, and this directs Emily toward the extinction of the SIB. Imaginably, this is similar to Miltenberger’s (2012) inkling of physical restraints in which the client is unable to enact desired target behaviors resulting in a decrease of those behaviors.

Emily’s parents are instructed to record daily information regarding the latency of the target behavior, the time elapsed before initiation of physical guidance, and the rate at which the behavior is exemplified before the intercession, over 10 days during the intervention, and two weeks after the interference. The reduction or extinction of the target behavior beginning by day 3 would support the intervention and validate the implementation of physical guidance as a useful resource to eradicate Emily’s SIB. If the outcome is less than favorable, a new investigation into the function of this target behavior should be initiated; perhaps the awkwardness of Emily walking into school with a helmet on would better serve as a form of extinction.

While SIB can be disturbing to any teacher or parent, truancy can be detrimental to franchises that depend upon the attendance and productivity rates of their employees. Mr. Smith operates a company who specializes in the manufacturing of figure skates; each of his 30 employees is precisely trained to fill a role in the development of this product, forlornly, due to absenteeism, production rates have decreased drastically. The truancy of his staff threatens the livelihood of his business.

Despite Mr. Smith’s efforts of providing breakfast for the employees, production rates are at an all-time low. Mr. Smith should consider reinforcements that are desirable from the perspective of his staff, a token economy. Mr. Smith could propose additional benefits to the regular pay of his employees in a monetary form or paid time off. To ensure the quota is met each month, Mr. Smith’s company must manufacture at least 25 pairs of skates a day.

The company is fashioned into three sections: the leather and lacing area, the truck and wheel department, and the formulation section where the final product is put together. Mr. Smith holds a meeting to announce that a reward will be offered upon a group contingency detailing that staff will be offered paid time off of 4 hours or a monetary bonus in the amount of $15.00 for each pair of skates manufactured after the 25th pair. This single-subject design interjects self-control into each employee while the group contingency increases morale and productivity. With dollar signs and picturesque beach views in their eyes, the employees began working in conjunction to exceed the goal of manufacturing 25 pairs of skates a day.

The kind offering of coffee and doughnuts was not enticing for his employees, and the thought of losing their jobs further downed their spirits, therefore reinforcing the absenteeism. The potential of earning extra money or paid time off is sure to motivate employees to not only show up to work but put in the effort it takes to ensure that the company is not only able to make its monthly quota and avoid a shutdown but exceed the quota to cover any use of the earned paid time off.

Productivity will be measured before the implementation of the group contingency, during the initial stages of the intervention, and then two weeks after the reinforcement plan. The measurement of the effects of this new reinforcement strategy will begin immediately and will be easily gauged by observing the levels of present employees at the start of each day. With this new incentive, Mr. Smith recognizes the potential of his company when his employees feel supported and important in their positions. During the final observation day, Mr. Smith’s employees are now manufacturing 30 pairs of skates a day with no absences signifying a successful intervention.


  1. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. (2nd Ed.). New York: Pearson Education, Inc.
  2. Miltenberger, R. G. (2012). Behavior modification: Principles and procedures. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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SIB & Efficiency. (2022, Aug 19). Retrieved from

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