104 - Principles of Behavior

Course Title: Principles of Behavior 104

Instructor: James O'Heare, DLBC, CDBC, CABC

Course Description:

Principles of Behavior 104 is an in-depth exploration of the principles of behavior. This course is designed to cultivate in the student a strong foundation repertoire in the principles and the science of behavior. This course will address all of the basic principles of behavior including those of both respondent and operant conditioning. The course begins with a detailed examination of the natural science of behavior, behaviorology and this is contrasted and compared with other approaches such as psychology, ethology and the medical model approach. This course will be of interest to anyone who wants to develop a strong and comprehensive appreciation of the science of behavior and the science and technology of behavior.

Behavioral Objectives:

The objective of this program of study is to measurably expand the student's repertoire of behaviors in relevant areas of focus for the program of study. To complete this course of study, the student will:

  • Describe and define the assumptions of the natural science of behavior, and distinguish this approach to behavior from others: psychology, ethology and the medical model orientation
  • Define, contract and compare sensitization and habituation
  • Define, contrast and compare operant and respondent behaviors as well as operant and respondent conditioning
  • Define key terms utilized in the science of behavior 
  • Describe the Law of Effect
  • Define and relate the 5 basic principles of operant conditioning: Extinction, +R, +P, -R, -P
  • Describe the 3-term contingency and relationships between each of the terms
  • Identify and describe variables affecting operant conditioning
  • Describe respondent conditioning and the four basic respondent conditioning procedures (i.e., trace, delayed, simultaneous, backward)
  • Describe respondent extinction
  • Identify and describe variables affecting respondent conditioning
  • Define, contrast and compare conditioned and unconditioned reinforcers
  • Describe the problematic secondary effects of aversive stimulation
  • Define and discuss learned helplessness
  • Define the compound procedure differential reinforcement, including different types, and explain how it can be utilized as an alternative to aversive control of behavior
  • Identify the basic schedules of reinforcement and describe their effects on the rate or frequency of behavior
  • Define, contrast and compare generalization and discrimination
  • Define stimulus control and explain how it is transferred


  • If you are new to the principles of behavior, you may want to use How Dogs Learn by Burch and Bailey to compliment this course.
  • Course notes

Course Evaluation:

This course will be evaluated by short essay assignments that will reflect and demonstrate mastery of the course topics and achievement of the learning objectives. The final grade will be the mean average of the assignment grades.


CEUs: Continuing Education Credits Available. See Course Approvals page for credits.


  • None

Taking Courses Individually:

Courses may be taken individually rather than as components of a diploma program. See the program page for details.

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