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.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Key to Footie Success...

As a football manager, you want your team to be the best. You want the best players and you want them to win the best trophies. Teamwork is paramount and slacking off is what gets you into the relegation zone. But if you find yourself at the bottom, there may be a way to turn it all around. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

Thorndike’s (1927) Law of Effect suggests the consequences of a given behaviour impact on whether the behaviour appears again. If the consequence is positive, the behaviour is positively reinforced. Applied to football, positive reinforcement may include the team moving up on the league table, being promoted to a higher league, winning a cup or players being paid different amounts of money or sponsorships based on their performance.

Stokes, Luiseli, Reed and Flemming (2010) studied college American football players, finding that positive reinforcement from the coach and teammates in the form of praise and helmet stickers improved performance. In addition, they found that when the coach gave descriptive feedback (praise and correction), video feedback and performance feedback via audible stimulus, this helped to boost performance. This emphasises the role that positive reinforcement has on behaviour.

Supporting this, Smith and Ward (2006) investigated three different intervention methods, finding that the one which players and the coach found most useful included public posting of progress, verbal feedback and goal setting. Therefore, like in ABA, the player studies his behaviour in the situation and if it gets positive results, this may serve an antecedent for them to try that tactic again. This may have also included negative reinforcement as players may seek to avoid negative feedback from the coach and the public, wanting instead to be socially accepted as a good player. This highlights the benefits of assessing behaviour and administering interventions to improve performance.

Therefore, if I were a coach, I would have a table or frequency graph of performance for players, with those who improve getting more points on the table and give praise to players who progressed the most and played well (maybe having club awards). This will work as positive reinforcement as correct behaviour will be rewarded as well as negative reinforcement as to avoid being at the bottom of the table, the player needs to ‘up their game’.

If the above is applied correctly, it could surely be one way to score a trophy.

Kimberley Brett (Blog 4)

Smith, S. L ., & Ward, P. (2006). Behavioral interventions to improve performance in collegiate football. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 39, 385-391.
Stokes, J. V., Luiselli, J. K. & Reed, D. D. (2010). A behavioural intervention for teaching tackling skills to high school football athletes. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 509-12.
Thorndike, E. L. (1927). The law of effect. The American Journal of Psychology, 39, 212-222.

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