Using Operant Conditioning to Change a Habit





Using Operant Conditioning to Change a Habit

Playing video games too much is a habit that I have and would like to change. I started playing video games when I was twelve years old, when my mother bought me a Playstation 2. At that time, I would spend as many as twelve hours a day gaming with my friends. Eventually, the activity started consuming most of my free time and my holidays. Being in college, the amount of free time that I have is limited but I still find myself gaming for large durations. I reinforce this habit by reading about video games when I am not playing them or talking about them with my friends. One positive aspect of video gaming is that it allows me to connect with my friends. However, my excessive gaming is eating into the time that I should spend studying or socializing outside my comfort zone. I currently spend an average of three hours playing games at my house during weekdays and more than ten hours gaming on weekends. I have tried to quit gaming by selling my console. However, this attempt was unsuccessful because I became bored after selling the console and was unable to find another entertaining activity with which I was comfortable.

Operant conditioning can help me overcome my gaming addiction. In operant conditioning, punishments and rewards are used to influence the behavior of an individual or change it (Coon and Mitterer 226). My plan to end my addiction to gaming is reliant on the use of continuous reinforcement. I will execute the plan with the help of a friend, who will ensure that I stay on course and provide the positive reinforcers. The first step of the plan will be for me to find other activities that I can undertake in place of gaming. These new activities will have to include ideas that encourage studying and social interactions. I will then create a timetable that incorporates the activities into my daily schedule. The timetable will ensure that gaming is restricted to only six hours a week during the weekends. The positive reinforcers in the plan will be free meals that my friend will give me whenever I follow the schedule. This means that my friend will play a key role regulating my schedule. If I play video games during the week, he will have to deny me the free meal. However, for every day that I spend studying or socializing, instead of gaming, my friend will give me a free meal. Accordingly, the plan will rely on continuous reinforcement and shaping to help end my gaming addiction.


Work Cited

Coon, Dennis and John O. Mitterer. Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.


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