THE EFFECTS OF SELF-RECORDING ON SELF-CONCEPTS
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Behavior and self-concepts have been shown to interact continuously, both changing and influencing each other. Investigators have demonstrated that changing behavior also changes how a person views himself and that experience. Conversely, changing beliefs has been shown to change behaviors relative to those beliefs. The question of whether behavior or beliefs is the more crucial element in change is still unresolved. However, behaviorists have been successful in changing behavior through various contingent management techniques. One such technique, self-monitoring, provides an autonomous and adaptable means for changing behavior in a variety of settings. The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether changing behavior, using a self-recording technique, would be accompanied by changes in self-concept. More specifically, the question which this study addressed was whether positively changing some aspect of negative behavior would also bring about more positive self-concepts. Positive self-concepts were defined as an increase in internal attribution or responsibility for outcomes, increased positive self-evaluation, and an increase in positive expectancies for future outcome in the situation where behavior had been changed.;The study was an intensive six week investigation of 40 special education students in a public high school. These students were selected because of poor school performance and motivation. The students were divided into experimental and control groups which were matched for grade and sex. The 20 experimental subjects differed from the 18 control subjects in that they received training in self-recording. Self-recording consisted of students checking frequency of their positive and negative behaviors occurring in a 40 minute class period. Two observers also checked behavior frequency for experimental and control subjects each day. At the end of each school week, observer/experimental subject records were compared for percentage of agreement. The subjects were awarded points, based on the percentage of agreement. Control subjects were awarded points based on class attendance. The points were spent on a reinforcement menu presented on the last day of each week. Also during this period, experimental subjects reviewed their progress, while control subjects held an open discussion. Behavior change was defined as changed frequency over a four week period, with a baseline week before and afterwards. Three self-concept scales--the IAR, TASC, and Expectancy Scale--were administered before and after self-recording training.;Results indicated that subjects who received self-recording significantly increased positive behavior and decreased negative behavior, while control subjects did not. In addition, experimental subjects significantly changed, in a positive direction, their internal attribution, self-evaluation, and expectancy, while control subjects did not. The major conclusion, then, is that changing behavior via self-recording also changes self-concepts. Implications of this study are both practical and theoretical. First, such a program could be utilized in school systems for the purpose of changing behavior and attitudes in problem students. Secondly, the concept of changing some aspects of behavior through one's own efforts may provide a sense of control and mastery essential for optimal functioning both behaviorally and emotionally.
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