TransFormações em Psicologia, 2012, vol. 4, Edição Especial, 93-117.
e eects of Self-Recording on the Generality of Parenting
Sonia Beatriz Meyer and Cheryl E. Poche
Western Michigan University
Abstract: Generality of parenting skills was programmed as well as assessed
using the technique of self-recording from audiotapes. A multiple baseline
across problematic situations was replicated with two single-parent
families. Self-recording was introduced in one situation at a time, while
audio taped assessments were conducted in three situations throughout
the day. A combination incentive plus cost system was used to encourage
the recording and coding of tapes. Parent and child behaviors changed
in the desired directions after self-recording was directly introduced. In
addiction, generality eects were clear in all response categories except
descriptive praise. As the number of codings increased, greater behavior
changes were evident in both targeted and non targeted situations.
Ke y Words: Parent training, self-recording, generality eects,
generalization, audio recording.
Este artigo é fruto do meu mestrado cursado nos Estados Unidos, na
“Western Michigan University”. O trabalho realizado em uma disciplina
assim como minha experiência anterior na Santa Casa de Misericórdia
de São Paulo no trabalho com pais me motivou a escolher este tema
como dissertação de Mestrado. A revisão bibliográca deixou claro que
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os procedimentos usados nos cursos para pais eram ecazes no sentido
de produzir mudanças nos comportamentos de pais e de lhos. O
grande problema encontrado era a pouca transferência da aprendizagem
para outras situações e a falta de manutenção dos ganhos ao longo do
tempo. Quis então pesquisar uma forma de aumentar a generalidade
através de situações e do tempo com uma tecnologia simples, barata e
pouco intrusiva. Na minha volta ao Brasil quei me correspondendo
com minha orientadora Cheryl Poché e quase nalizamos o texto aqui
apresentado. Fui protelando este término em função de diculdades de
readaptação ao Brasil, até desistir. Foi grande a satisfação de “salvar” todo
o trabalho dedicado em 1980 a este artigo que o convite para escrever no
volume especial de escritos dos professores, da Revista TransFormações em
Psicologia me proporcionou. Tentei ainda retomar o tema no Doutorado,
cursado na Psicologia Experimental na USP, mas entrevistas com diretores
de escolas e pais me mostraram que não havia demanda para um curso de
caráter preventivo. Minha tese foi em outro tema, o de comportamentos
autolesivos em indivíduos com atraso de desenvolvimento. Hoje minhas
pesquisas são sobre o processo de interação em psicoterapia. Apesar da
mudança de tema, são vários os legados do trabalho desenvolvido no
Mestrado, em especial o delineamento de pesquisa que atualmente estou
empregando, o delineamento experimental de caso único.
Two major improvements are currently needed in parent training
research. First is the need for inexpensive and convenient, yet objective
and reliable, assessment devices. Second is the need for procedures which
produce generality1 of treatment eects across new behaviors and settings.
1 According to Johnston (1079), the term “generalization” is often erroneously used as a
description or explanation of any appropriate change occurring in a non-training setting.
is suggests that a single phenomenon is at work when actually a number of dierent
phenomena need to be described, explained, and controlled. Stimulus generalization
refers to the condition in which responses reinforced in the presence of one stimulus also
occur, though possibly with less frequency or magnitude, in the presence of similar but
dierent stimuli. Response generalization refers to the condition in which similar but
e present study used self-recording from audiotapes as both an assessment
device and a method for enhancing the generality of treatment eects.
Assessment techniques used to evaluate parent training programs
include verbal reports of parents, relatives, and friends through interviews
and questionnaires, personality tests, and role-plays, parent-collected
observational data, structured laboratory observations, and direct
observations in the home (Berkovitz and Graziano, 1972; Eyeberg and
Johnson, 1974; Forehand and Atkeson, 1977; O’Dell, 1974; Peed,
Roberts, and Forehand, 1977; Roberts and Forehand, 1978; Wahler,
1969, 1975). Eyeberg and Johnson (1974) and Peed et al (1977) suggest
that these dierent assessment methods produce dierent conclusions.
Forehand and Atkeson (1977) stated that the more rigorous the method
of assessment, the less positive the results have been, and that parents
verbal or written opinions have questionable validity. e more rigorous
methods involve the direct assessment of overt behavior.
Direct home observations, however, are costly and time consuming
(Miller and Sloane, 1976; Herbert and Baer, 1972; Kelley, Embry and
Baer, 1979. Time for transportation and conversation with the family
must be added to the actual observation time for each home visit. It is
dicult to obtain a broad sample of behaviors, since home observations
must be conducted at a single convenient time of the day for the family,
primary observer, and reliability observer. (e hour before dinner is a
common observation time.)
Another problem with home observations is that they may be more
obtrusive than other procedures, since the presence of the observer makes
the family constantly aware that their behavior is being assessed. It may
be dicult to ignore the observer and to interact normally. Studies of
dierent responses are evoked but a stimulus previously paired with reinforcement. ese
types of generalization are not strong enough, according to Johnston (1979), to produce
or maintain desired responding in the face of a dierent set of environmental stimuli.
us, for the behavior analyst, the issue is not so much how to obtain “generalization” but
how to arrange control over dierent environmental conditions which result in desired
inuences on behavior. Generality, then, refers to universality or replicability.
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the dierential reactivity of dierent observational methods, however,
have produced contradictory evidence (Gang & Poche, 1980; Johnson
& Bolstad, 1973; Forehand & Atkeson, 1977; Kent, O’Leary, Dietz &
Diament, 1979; Johnson, Christenson & Bellamy, 1976, Bernal, Gibson,
Williams & Pesses, 1971; Kazdin, 1979).
Probably because of the cost, time requirement, obtrusiveness, and
inconvenience to the family and observers, direct observations have often
been brief in duration and limited to one pre- and one post-observation
(Forehand and Atkeson, 1977). However, in order to clearly demonstrate
the process of behavior change, and to provide more representative data, a
continuous measure of behavior is preferable to pre- and post-observations.
Audio recording in the home is an alternative method for data collection
which has several advantages over live observation. Audio recording
attenuates the problem of observer bias and obtrusiveness by limiting
subject- observer contact (Johnson and Bolstad, 1975). It is less costly
than direct observation. A cassette recorder with a built-in microphone
is inexpensive and can provide audible recordings. Audio recordings can
be carefully reviewed, can be stored for later interobserver agreement
checks, and are available for later analysis of dierent variables. Also, time-
samples can be superimposed to demarcate observation intervals (Hughes
& Haynes, 1978). Furthermore, audio recording places fewer restraints
on the family than direct observation. e family can move to dierent
rooms by carrying a portable recorder, placing microphones in several
places in the home, or having the child or adult wear a wireless radio
transmitter. Parents need not induce the occurrence of children’s targeted
behaviors, since recording can take place at the time when the problem
generally occurs. No transportation and interaction time is needed. Tape
recordings can be made at any time of the day, and with a high frequency,
since they do not depend upon observer availability. Audio recordings also
provide the therapist or researcher with a record of the actual behavior
rather than parent-collected data, such as that using wrist counters or data
sheets, which may be subject to errors and/or bias.
e technique of self-recording from audiotapes has been used
successfully to produce changes in single behaviors and settings. Horton
(1975) had teachers listen to audiotapes recordings of their classroom
interactions, while scoring and graphing their behaviors. e rates of
teachers’ behavior-specic praise increased, but these increases were
restricted to subject matter areas in which self-recording were conducted.
Doleys, Doster, and Cartelli (1976) had parents score their own behavior
from an audiotape made in a clinic as part of a package that also contained
post-interaction feedback, lectures, and role playing in eective child
management. e package produced signicant behavior changes in the
clinic. It is not clear if these changes were also produced at home. Doleys
el al. (1976) suggested that self-recording of home interactions might
enhance generality and maintenance.
e second deciency of parent training programs is the lack of data
demonstrating the generality of treatment eects to new behaviors and
settings. When generality occurs, the therapist need not treat recurrences of
previously treated problems (temporal generality), the problem behaviors
in new settings (setting generality), or all behavior problems of a person
In two reviews parent training programs, O’Dell et al. (1974) and
Forehand and Atkeson (1977) stated that most parent training programs
did not show generality to non targeted behaviors or settings and that
there were no well-developed techniques for producing such generality.
Kelley, et al. (1979) enhanced the generality of child management skills
across time (temporal generality) by teaching both parents to engage in
behaviors supportive of each other.
Self-control procedures such as self-recording may promote generality.
Such techniques are easy to transport and may be employed readily to facilitate
responding under untrained conditions. Studies that have employed various
self-control tactics, including self-assessment, self-recording, self-determination
of reinforcement, and self-administration of reinforcement, have displayed
some maintenance and generality eects (Stokes & Baer, 1977).
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Coding of audio tapes is one tactic of self-control similar to self
recording. It’s occurrence at a later time than the actual recording presents
a theoretical problem if the coding process is considered as a consequence
that aims to change the behavior listened to. e categorization of one’s
behavior as a correct command can probably function as reinforcement, and
its categorization as an incorrect command, as punishment. But how can
the categorization aect the behavior if the consequence is contingent on
the categorization? What probably occurs when people listen to their own
behavior is that the controlling circumstances such as children’s verbalizations
are partially presented again through the tape. e consequences would then
act upon the actual behavior if the person is behaving, along with listening,
to the tape. e consequences would then act upon the actual behavior
if the person is behaving, along with listening, to the tape. It would be a
similar process to the one described by Skinner (1974) at page 120: “On a
future occasion such a record can evoke behavior appropriate to an earlier
occasion and may permit a person to respond more eectively”.
e consequences of coding from a tape could be more eective in
producing generality than either therapist’s consequences or those obtained
through coding ongoing behavior. is is because the stimulus control
generated by other aspects of the situation when the tape recording took
place are absent when the tape is played at a later time. e absence of
strong situation-specic stimulus control could be the instrumental factor
in the production of generality. e parent’s correct responses could be
controlled solely by the relevant characteristics of the child’s behavior.
A multiple-baseline design can be used to study the generality of
treatment eects (O’Dell, 1974; Forehand & Atkeson, 1977). With
this design, dierent behaviors or settings are observed simultaneously,
but treatment is introduced in one behavior or setting at a time. When
generality occurs, changes are observed not only in the behavior or setting
in which treatment was not directly introduced. In order to insure that the
eects observed were not produced by an extraneous factor, it is desirable
to reproduce those eects in more than one subject.
In the present study, generality of parenting skills across problematic
situations was programmed as well as assessed by the technique of self-
recording from audiotapes. A multiple-baseline design across situations
was replicated with two families.
Six families answered a letter of invitation sent to the parents of children
attending a preschool aliated with a university. One of four families who
attended an initial interview was elected to participate. e other family
was contacted by telephone, but was not interviewed because of health
and work problems. e second family was referred by a personal source.
Family A consisted of a 24-year-old, divorced, high school graduate
and her three-year-old daughter. e mother was a welfare recipient who
babysat with other children. Family B consisted of a 27-year-old divorced
welfare recipient, her seven-year-old daughter, and her eight-year-old son.
e mother was enrolled in university classes and worked as a volunteer
20 hours per week. Both families gave their written informed consent to
allow the therapist to hear their tape-recordings and to communicate the
results of the study while maintaining their anonymity.
All data collection and behavior change programs were conducted by the
parents in their homes. All parent/therapist meetings were conducted in the
therapist’s oce at the preschool, with the exception of one home visit.
Each family was provided a cassette tape recorder and ve 60 minute
blank tapes each week. When the family returned the tapes, a 10-second-
interval verbal count was superimposed on them. Parents used a watch
with a second hand to measure the duration of the recordings and codings.
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Data Collection Procedures
Tape Recordings. All the data on parent’s behaviors were collected from
tape recordings of family interactions in their homes. e parents received
instructions on how to record sessions, with details on where to place the
tape recorder and how to make a clear recording. ey were asked not to
change their family interactions during the recordings, but to tell their
children the general purpose of the recordings if they asked. If the parents
recorded something condential, they could erase that part of the tape
if they wished. If she had to leave the room, the mother was instructed
to carry the recorder with her. When the children and mother were in
dierent rooms, the mother was asked to keep the recorder near her since
her behaviors were the ones coded.
Each parent chose three situations they wished to change. Family A chose
dinner, cleanup, and naptime. e main problems in all three situations
were non-compliance and talking back. Family B chose breakfast, getting
dressed in the morning, and bedtime. e main problems that occurred
were arguing and using bad language.
Parents were asked to record for a minimum of 15 minutes in order to
increase the likelihood that 10 full minutes would be available for coding.
If the targeted situation was mealtime, and the meal was over in 7 minutes,
the data were transformed into a comparable unit by taking the number of
responses for each category, multiplying this number by 10, and then dividing
by the number of minutes. e parents were asked to record each situation two
or three times weekly, for a minimum of six and a maximum of nine tapings
per week. ey could choose the days on which to make the recordings.
Coding the Tapes. During the experimental phases, the parents coded their
own behavior from the recordings. e number of codings required per week
ranged from zero to ve, depending on the experimental condition. e
time required to code a 10-minute situation ranged from 10 to 30 minutes.
Parents were provided with written instructions for coding, denitions of the
behaviors, several data collection sheets, and graph paper. ey coded every
phrase, statement, or comment into one of ve categories.
1. Correct command: Statement that specied an act of compliance
which could be initiated by the child within 10 seconds, was delivered in a
normal tone of voice, specied the referents, did not specify aversive conse-
quences, was not a bribe, and was not a repetition of an earlier command.
2. Incorrect command: Statement that did not have all of the above
characteristics of a correct command.
3. Attention for inappropriate behavior: Anything said to the child
while s/he was acting inappropriately, including the announcement of an
unpleasant consequence, a command, a remark, reasons why the child
should or should not do something, or conversation.
4. Attention for appropriate behavior: Anything said to the child
while she was acting appropriately, or not acting inappropriately, except
aversive statements and descriptive praise.
5. Descriptive praise: Statement of approval in which the approved
behavior was clearly described.
Parents tallied and then totaled the frequencies for each of the ve
categories and then plotted them on graph paper.
Training in Coding. Parents and reliability scorers received written
denitions of the ve categories of parent behaviors. First, they practiced
coding written examples of the behaviors until the percentage of correct
codings of all categories were 90% or above. Next, they coded an actual
tape. If agreement with the therapist was below 90%, the therapist coded
that tape with the parent or reliability scorer, answering questions and
correcting mistakes. Training was concluded when the parent or scorer
obtained 90% or better agreement with the therapist. During the program,
retraining was conducted when mistakes in coding were noted.
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e therapist used a frequency count within intervals in addition to
a total frequency count to code 100% of the parents’ tapes. Reliability
scorers did not know the families or the phase of the study from which each
recording came. e tapes chosen for reliability scoring were randomly
selected, while equally distributed among the situations and experimental
Agreement with parents. Using an exact frequency count, the mean
percentage agreement between the therapist and mother A averaged 60%
and ranged from 47% for attention for inappropriates to 81% for descriptive
praise. Agreement with mother B averaged 67% and ranged from 43% for
attention for inappropriates to 89% for attention for appropriates. Both
parents generally recorded a lower frequency of correct commands, incorrect
commands, and attention for inappropriates than did the therapist.
A low reliability coecient did not always mean a large discrepancy
between parent and therapist in the recorded frequency. If the frequency
of responses was low, the parent and therapist might disagree on only one
instance but produce a reliability coecient suggesting a larger discrepancy.
Agreement with reliability scorers. Using a frequency count within
intervals, occurrence agreement between therapist and reliability scorers
averaged 87% and ranged from 52% to 100%. Overall agreement averaged
99% and ranged from 95% to 100%.
While the parents tape-recorded their own behaviors, they also
recorded their children’s target behaviors on paper and later graphed them.
A written record of the children’s behaviors was required because their
motor behaviors could not be identied through the tapes. e recording
was kept simple, however, since two detailed recording procedures might
have involved too much work for the parents and since child behaviors
were not the primary emphasis of the study.
At dinner, mother A recorded the number of bites of food eaten by the
child. In the cleanup situation, she recorded whether the child picked up
all the toys, half of them, or less than half. At naptime, she recorded the
occurrence of kicking, screaming, and refusal to nap. Mother B recorded
the duration of getting dressed in the morning, the duration of breakfast,
and latency of quieting down at bedtime.
Incentive System for Taping and Coding
An incentive system that included prizes, a cash deposit, and a
termination contingency was used to motivate parents to reliably record,
code, and graph their own behavior.
Prizes. Parents received points for completing the required recordings and
codings. e recordings had to contain session information, to be audible, and to
include a corresponding written record of the child’s behavior. In addition, each
tape had to be coded before making the nest recording. Bonus points were given
for each recording or coding done in addition to the required ones. Points were
exchanged weekly for prizes, which were small gifts ranging in price from 50ç to
$3.00 and free child care at the WMU day care center.
Cash Deposit. e parents deposited $10.00 three times during the program
which they received when they completed the recordings and codings as
specied above and returned the tapes and recorder in good condition.
Certicate. Parents were told they would receive a certicate indicating
that they had completed the program on eective parent training, provided
their participation continued until the end of the program.
Termination Contingency. Parents agreed to terminate their participation
in the program if they obtained less than 50% of the required points for
two consecutive weeks or four non-consecutive weeks.
e therapist met weekly with each parent for 1 to 2 hours throughout
all conditions. At each meeting, the clarity of the recordings was discussed.
Prizes were awarded and cash credits and debits were recorded. Tapes and
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data sheets were collected from parents prior to each meeting so that
the therapist could hear the recordings, determine the following week’s
assignment, and award points and money. Midweek phone calls were made
to check progress, solve problems, and remind parents of the recordings.
e experimental design was a multiple baseline across problematic
situations for each family. e sequence of conditions for each situation
was as follows:
Baseline. At the rst weekly meeting during baseline, parents chose
three problematic situations. e therapist helped the parent dene the
problem behaviors of the child and design a simple data sheet to record
them. e parents received recording instructions, a tape recorder, and ve
tapes. ey were asked to record the three situations two to three times per
week each. Baseline continued until the situation was recorded for at least
three days and the data appeared stable.
Coding. At the rst weekly meeting during training, parents received a
written handout summarizing basic principles of behavior change, along
with a brief discussion of these principles. ey also received a handout
describing how to code their own behaviors, along with denitions of the
categories. ey were asked to study the handouts in order to participate
in an exercise in coding at the next meeting. Parents were also asked to
design a behavior change plan for the rst situation. e therapist gave
no help in the initial design of the plan. e parent developed it at home,
basing it on the handouts already given. Parents used a given format to
set up the behavior change plans. is format required them to specify
what behavior they wanted to occur, when it should occur, and what they
would do before and after the behavior occurred. ey also specied the
behavior they did not want to occur, when it did occur, and what they
would do before and after their behavior occurred. Several blank formats
were given to each parent. No codings were required this week.
During the second weekly meeting, the therapist reviewed the behavior
change plan and, if it was incomplete or inappropriate, helped to correct
it. e therapist helped parents analyze the contingencies maintaining the
children’s inappropriate behaviors but gave no direct answers to questions
like, “What should I do when my daughter uses bad language?” this was
so that parents would have a history of independent behavior analysis
and development of intervention plans and thus might be more likely to
analyze behavior and develop a plan on their own in the future. Practice
exercises in coding were provided. Parents were asked to code and graph
their behavior from every tape recording of the rst situation in the next
week. ey were also asked to implement the plan for child behavior
change in the rst situation. e therapist made one home visit during
this week to help parents with the rst coding.
In later meetings, parents were asked to examine their behaviors from
the graphs and to state whether or not their behaviors were improving.
e therapist praised any increases in correct behaviors.
Fading 1. Parents continued to tape-record the situation but coded and
graphed their behavior from only half of the recordings.
Fading 2. Parents continued to record the situation, but no coding nor
graphing were required.
Treatment and Generality Eects
Figures 1 and 2 show the data recorded by the therapist from the parents’
tape recordings. A decrease in the mean frequency of incorrect commands,
total commands, and attention for inappropriate behavior and an increase
in the mean frequency of descriptive praise was observed for both families
as a function of the direct and generality eects of self-recording.
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Figure 1. Mean frequency of incorrect commands, total com-
mands, descriptive praise, and attention for inappropriate be-
haviors per 10 minute session displayed by family A during
baseline, coding, and fading.
During baseline at dinner for family A, the mean frequency of incorrect
commands was 12. With the institution of the coding procedure, the
Figure 2. Mean frequency of incorrect commands, total fre-
quency of commands, descriptive praise, and attention for in-
appropriate behaviors per 10 minute session displayed by fam-
ily B during baseline, coding, and fading.
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mean frequency of incorrect commands decreased to 5.6. When coding
was also initiated in the cleanup situation, the mean frequency of incorrect
commands at dinner decreased further to 1.1. During fading, the mean
frequency decreased to 0.7. e variability in the frequency of incorrect
commands during dinner also decreased after coding was initiated.
During baseline in the cleanup situation, the mean frequency of
incorrect commands was 15. During coding at dinner, the cleanup
situation remained in baseline for another 8 sessions, but a decrease of
47% to 8 in the mean frequency of incorrect commands was observed,
illustrating a generality eect. Variability also decreased during this time.
When the coding procedure was introduced directly in the cleanup
situation, incorrect commands decreased further to an average of 1.3 or
13% of baseline levels. Variability also decreased further during this period.
During fading, incorrect commands increased slightly to 3 but were still at
only 20% of baseline levels. Variability remained low during fading.
During baseline at naptime, the mean frequency of incorrect commands
was 5. When coding was introduced at dinner, incorrect commands at
naptime increased to a mean of 9.5. When coding was introduced in the
cleanup situation, incorrect commands at naptime decreased to a mean of
4.2, showing a generality eect. When coding was nally introduced at
naptime, incorrect commands dropped to a mean of 3.2. Similar trends
in frequency and variability were observed in the mean frequency of total
commands and attention for inappropriate behavior.
e frequency of descriptive praise at dinner increased from a baseline
average of 2 to 4 after the introduction of coding. Descriptive praise
at dinner further increased to an average of 4.7 when coding was also
introduced in the cleanup situation. During fading, praise at dinner
increased to an average of 9.2.
When coding was introduced at dinner, praise in the cleanup situation, still
under baseline conditions, increased from 3 to 5, showing a generality eect.
Praise increased further to 7.7 when the procedure was directly introduced
at cleanup. During fading, praise at cleanup dropped to a mean of 2.3.
During naptime, praise increased from an average of 0 to 2 when coding
was introduced at dinner and 4 when coding was introduced at cleanup,
showing a generality eect. When coding was directly introduced at
naptime, praise increased again to an average of 2.8 instances per sessions.
e results for family B were similar to those for family A, as seen
in Figure 2. e frequency of incorrect commands, total number of
commands, and attention for inappropriates at bedtime decreased greatly
when the coding procedure was introduced during breakfast and dressing.
In the dressing situation, changes from baseline can only be inferred
because of the lack of complete baseline data. e means for the dressing
situation when coding began at breakfast are compared to the baseline
means at breakfast and bedtime. An estimated decrease of 55% was
obtained for incorrect commands, 24% for total commands, and 82% for
attention for inappropriates. An estimated increase of 60% was obtained
for descriptive praise.
Some dierences between families were observed. e frequencies
of all behaviors were 53% to 80% lower for family B than for family
A. Variability was also lower. In addition, the coding procedure was not
introduced in the third situation for family B, as the levels of behaviors
were already acceptable. e frequency of attention for inappropriates
increased during dressing in contrast with the other situations and with
the results for family A.
e mean frequency of attention for appropriate behaviors showed no
systematic trends across situations for either family after the introduction
of the coding procedure.
Mother A obtained 83% of the required points and earned a total of
$24.20. Mother B obtained 95.5% of the required points and earned a
total of $27.20. Both earned the certicate indicating completion of the
parent training program.
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Behavior Change Plans and Results
Based on their graphs of their behavior in the problematic situations,
the parents decided to decrease the frequency of their incorrect commands
and their attention for inappropriate behavior, as well as the total number
of commands they gave. ey also decided to increase the frequency of
their descriptive praise statements and sometimes supplemented praise
with activity and edible reinforces. e parents often specied quantitative
goals for themselves based on their previous rates of behavior (i.e., only
two commands to prompt the child’s behavior; one descriptive praise
statement following each correct behavior).
After implementation of a behavior change plan at dinner, mother A
reported that her child displayed appropriate eating behavior (dened as
eating at least three bites of each food item within 15 minutes) in 72%
of the dinners, compared with 50% before the plan. At cleanup, the child
picked up all of her toys in 77% of the sessions compared with 40% before
the plan. At naptime, the child refused to nap in 27% of the sessions,
compared with 87% of baseline.
Mother B reported that, after implementation of a behavior change
plan at breakfast, the children nished breakfast promptly 90% of the
time, compared with 33% before the plan. e children were dressed
within 10 minutes 92% of the time, compared with 40% before the plan.
At bedtime the children went to bed promptly 87% of the time, compared
with 31% before the plan.
is study demonstrated that having parents code and graph their own
behavior from audiotapes made in their homes was eective in obtaining
parental behavior change. For both families, each time that coding was
directly introduced in a problematic situation, the mean frequency of
incorrect commands and the frequency of total commands decreased,
and the mean frequency of descriptive praise increased in that situation.
e mean frequency of attention for inappropriates decreased, with two
exceptions, which were no more than 4% above baseline and which were
observed after the occurrence of a generality eect.
e study also demonstrated that appropriate parenting behaviors
obtained through self-recording showed generality, that is, occurred in
dierent situations than those in which coding and graphing occurred.
With the introduction of self-recording in the rst situation, the behaviors
changed in the desired direction in second situation for family A and in
the second and third situations for family B, except for descriptive praise,
which showed minimal changes. When the procedure was introduced in
the second situation for family A, generality of responding was observed
in the third situation in all four behaviors. When self-recording was
introduced in the second situation for family B, the generality eects
observed earlier in the third situation were even greater. It is interesting
to note that further changes in the desired directions occurred in all
behaviors in the rst situation after the introduction of the procedure in
the second situation. ese ndings are similar to those of Herbert and
Baer (1972) and Horton (1975), who observed further improvements in
behavior when self-recording was introduced for a second time.
Rosenbaum and Drabman (1979) stated that desirable eects
associated with self-recording may be short term, requiring the addition
of reinforcing contingencies for their maintenance. ese contingencies
were not necessary in the present study. When the number of codings
was reduced in the fading conditions, most behaviors in most situations
remained appropriately well above or below baseline levels. In many cases,
parental behavior improved even further during fading as observed in
family A at dinner and nap and in family B during fading 2. ese results
suggest that the greater the number of codings accomplished, the greater
the behavior change in coded as well as uncoded situations.
e use of a combined incentive plus cost system for making tapes and
coding them worked well for both families. Family B often made more
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tapes and codings than the minimum number required by the therapist. It
is important to note that no formal contingencies of reinforcement were
designed for parental behavior change. No contingency was introduced
for good reliability with the therapist either.
Minor dierences between parents’ and therapist’s codings were
expected with the use of a frequency count. Verbal interactions do not
always have a discrete onset and oset. In such cases the use of an interval
measure is indicated (Roberts and Forehand, 1978). Indeed, with the use
of an interval measure occurrence plus nonoccurrence reliability was 99%,
and occurrence reliability was higher than exact frequency reliability. It
would have been desirable to have the parents use interval recording, but
to do this would have increased the cost of the program as well as the
time and skill of the parents in operating the necessary equipment. Future
improvements in recording equipment might solve this problem. e fact
that the parents’ behaviors were generally of low frequency made the exact
frequency method of reliability a very stringent one. A dierence of one
point between codings could mean 0%, 50% or 80% reliability, depending
upon whether the actual frequencies were 0 and 1, 1 and 2, or 4 and 5.
According to Rosenbaum and Drabman (1979), self-recording need not
be accurate to produce desirable behavior change. Kazdin (1974) asserted
that, when used as a behavior change technique rather than an assessment
device, the accuracy of self-monitoring is less crucial and perhaps irrelevant.
A question pertinent to the use of data assessed through audio recordings
is whether they are similar to data obtained through direct observation.
e answer to this question was positive in previous studies (Bernal et
al., 1971; Johnson and Bolstad, 1975; Gang and Poche, 1980). Indeed,
observers scoring audio taped interactions may attend more closely to the
verbal behaviors being recorded than observers scoring live observations,
who may pay more attention to physical movements. A shortcoming of
audio recordings is that its most physical behaviors cannot be identied
from the tape alone.
If the self-recording procedure were clinically applied, it would require
less time than conventional parent training programs. Most programs
involve a two or three hour weekly meeting, frequent home visits, and
time spent supervising home projects. e self-recording procedure would
require a one hour weekly meeting and a half hour each week to code half
of the recordings from one situation as a reliability measure. One home
visit at the beginning of the program is recommended to ensure that the
parent is initially recording and coding correctly and to observe a family
interaction. e cost of the program, witch includes the cost of a reusable
cassette recorder, tapes, and small gifts, is much less than that of a program
in which observers must be trained and paid to go to the home.
e self-recording procedure consisted of several behavioral
components, including tape-recording, listening to the tape, coding it,
graphing the results, recording the child’s targeted behaviors, developing
an intervention plan, reading theoretical material, and attending weekly
meetings with the therapist. One might ask whether aspects of the program
other than coding and graphing were responsible for the changes observed.
Audio recording alone did not seem to produce any behavioral changes,
since baseline rates did not show any systematic trends. e recording of
children’s behaviors was not responsible for the changes either, since this
recording also started during baseline. Reading theoretical material and
attending weekly meetings were probably not instrumental in producing
all of the changes alone. Flanagan, Adams, and Forehand (1979) found
that written presentation of material did not result in parental behavior
change in the home. O’Dell (1974) concluded that actual behavior
training appears to be necessary to produce measurable changes in parent
behavior. It is possible that simply listening to the tapes without coding
and graphing them would produce similar results. is is an interesting
possibility to investigate since it might involve less parental time. Parents
might answer a number of questions about their behaviors that would not
include the precise counting of behaviors.
Revista TransFormações em Psicologia
Self-recording from audiotapes proved to be eective in producing
parental behavior change in targeted problematic situations, as well as in
other situations involving dierent child behaviors at dierent times of
the day. e audio recordings also served as a convenient and objective
assessment device for the therapist, saving both time and expense. Self-
recording could be applied to many other training situations, such as sta
or teacher training, thus decreasing supervisor time and increasing trainee
eectiveness in multiple settings.
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