Tips for a Better Life through Verbal Behavior

Angela Cathey, MA, & Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

There are a lot of tips out there about how to motivate yourself and achieve more in life. In a recent video Brett DiNovi, of Brett DiNovi & Associates, LLC, shares some of his favorite tips on how to keep yourself achieving. If you would like to check out his full list of tips, see the linked video. We will focus here on how several of his common-sense tips can be pinned down to behavioral science.

One of Brett’s tips is to ‘focus on moving towards what you want to do’ or be a ‘success-seeker’. This tip is consistent with what we know about the effect of aversive versus appetitive environments. Due to the properties of verbal behavior we can also augment the functions of direct contingencies in our environment through the functions of our own verbal behavior. What this means is that if you actively pursue goal and values-driven action, you will tend to augment the functions of direct contingencies ‘in the service of’ meeting these. This will tend to create a more positive and less aversive feeling environment despite continuously changing direct contingencies in your life.

Along with the previous tip, Brett encourages others not to watch ‘too much’ news. His reasoning for this is that news media tends to be dominated by the nature of ratings. News agencies tend to focus on sensational and negative headlines in order to maintain a high ‘click rate’ or viewing rate in the short-run. As a viewer, this will tend to orient your attention and your physiological responses towards alarm, fear, and anger. It can be wise to choose your news media wisely and choose times of media consumption or formats of media that are less likely to set your attention towards high alert (e.g., writing instead of emotion provoking video content) and negatively influence your mood.

A third tip provided in this video relates to how we view others and understand their experience. As you may have deduced from our previous two tips, direct contingencies in an environment may be heavily influenced by our own transformations of stimuli. Brett briefly discusses the relevance of this to celebrity suicides, including that of Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain. He encourages taking and open and empathic perspective to understanding the experience of others. Sometimes people may appear to ‘have it all’ and yet their experience of their environment may still be aversive.

As behavior analysts, it is key that we consider the impact of our own and others’ verbal behavior on the functions of the contingencies in our direct environment. These contingencies can be used to help motivate us, reduce the impact of negative experience in our environments, and promote empathy and accurate perspective-taking in understanding the experience of others.

Make sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

bSci21Media, LLC, owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog, bSciEntrepreneurial, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]

*Paid content by Brett DiNovi & Associates.



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