I had a great conversation yesterday with a respected individual in our field discussing values and their role in behavior changes (not sure if the person wants to be named so I will protect their privacy, but know that it inspired this blog post!). As we continue to think about cultural change as it relates to behavior analysis, I started thinking about how community values direct community or cultural behaviors. Ultimately, it comes down to reinforcement principles (which I will not go in to here, but will direct the reader to the BF Skinner Foundation, where you can access resources describing positive and negative reinforcement).
When we speak of cultural change, the discussion of value can be broken into several sectors. The first is individual values. What value does our current behavior serve us? For behavior analysts we look at this as a functional assessment or analysis, but for people who aren't behavior analysts we can ask ourselves the question of Why? Why do I keep performing this behavior? or Why am I not engaging in behavior I want to perform? When we analyze that, we can then create action steps, defining the behaviors we need to develop and a plan to shape that learning process.
We can also do this from a larger perspective from that of the community. This can be a neighborhood community, city, state, country, or even global community. We ultimately need to "Start with Why," as Simon Sinek says, and ask ourselves, what are our values as a broad community. If we put aside our differences and beliefs, we may find we actually all have one common value from which we can build upon--the value of survival, and the continuation of our species on this planet. Maybe, we can at least start there.
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