Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I'll help you, help me. ABA in the workplace.

Although this isn't a guaranteed career path, I have always had a fond interest in advertising. It fascinates me how a single image, or a few seconds of footage can capture an audience, change their opinion about something or simple make them smile. Whether I go into advertising or not, I think I would like to work in a business environment, and most importantly, with a team. I absolutely love working with people, so this is a necessity in any future employment.

If I was lucky enough to get to the stage where I was head of a team, I would be able to use what I have learnt in my Psychology degree to my advantage. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a modern technique used to change behaviour and is often associated with autism due to its prevalence and success in the field. ABA, however, simply observes and describes the current state and then provides tools of learning that help us to understand people's behaviour. This means it can be brought into any environment and with anyone (Lattal, 1999).

The most important part of a business is its employees, and without happy, motivated employees, you might as well say goodbye to any success. ABA could be used in the work place in order to get the most out of employees, while keeping them satisfied.
I have come across almost a sub-field of ABA called Positive Organisational Behaviour (POB) which uses ABA techniques in the workplace which emphasises positive reinforcement and improves performance (Nelson & Cooper, 2007). It is linked to the exciting field of Positive Psychology that preaches that what is good about life is as important as what is bad about life and deserves equal attention.

In order to get the most out of a team, I would try ABA and POB techniques in the hope of getting more out of them, and keeping them happy. This would include taking the time to not only congratulate employees when they have done something well, but to also explicitly state what was done well. Just by showing someone what they have done correctly can change their behaviour in the future, because you are showing them what you want them to do. I would also try and keep the team motivated by increasing their self-efficacy. This is our belief in our ability to succeed in certain situations. If workers believe in themselves, they will be more productive, and this can be achieved by simple praising employees for good work, and encouraging them when they are struggling. Likewise if employees don't do so well, they should be taught why in order to change their behaviour in the future. Studies have shown that optimism and self-efficacy in the work-place were positively related to job performance and work happiness (Youssef & Luthans, 2007).

By Katie Lawton

Lattal, D. (1999). Ethical decision making in the workplace. Retrieved March 25, 2014, from

Nelson, D., & Cooper, C. L. (2007). Positive Organizational Behavior. London: SAGE Publication Ltd

Youssef, C. M., & Luthans, F. (2007). Positive Organizational Behavior in the workplace: The impact of hope, optimism, and resilience. Journal of Management, 33, 774-800.

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