Dr Joe Layng: When R+ is Coercive and R- is Not. Forget Hierarchies! Behavioral Procedures are Non Linear

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Episode - 15 ​April 2020

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

Guest: ​Dr Joe Layng

​​This is an episode you will want to bookmark, reference and listen to several times over. Dr Joe Layng gives insights that might surprise you into how behavior analytic principles influence behavior. Learn how degrees of freedom and critical consequences can cause positive reinforcement to be coercive. Explore the super fascinating non-linear approach to better understand behavior processes. Also discover what is really happening when we use systematic desensitization and counter conditioning in comparison to the more empowering constructional approach.  Dr Layng shares how behaviors often described as “innate” were learned and can be influenced.  And you will learn why phrases like “least intrusive, most positive” and “hierarchies of behavior change procedures” don’t really apply to the science. This is a fantastic episode for those looking for a deeper dive into the science behind the practical application.  I also answer your questions about harness training a coati.


​Links to Resources from Dr Joe Layng Mentioned in the Podcast:

​Click Here to Subscribe to Operants Magazine from the BF Skinner Foundation -This is a free digital publication. Dr Layng's article will be featured in the second quarterly issue of 2020.

​Synopsis of Dr Joe Layng's Presentation  "Coercion without Aversive Stimuli" from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference


Guest Bio:

​​Dr. Joe Layng co-founded Headsprout, which was acquired by Newell-Rubbermaid in the Spring of 2011 and merged into its interactive teaching technologies company, DYMO|Mimio. He currently serves as DYMO|Mimio –Headsprout’s director of learning sciences. Dr. Layng led the scientific team that developed Headsprout’s patented Sprout Learning™ technology. This technology forms the basis of the company’s Headsprout® Early Reading and Reading Comprehension programs, for which Dr. Layng was the chief architect.

Dr. Layng earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Science (Biopsychology) from the University of Chicago, where he collaborated on research, working with pigeons, investigating the adduction of untrained complex symbolic behavior from simpler behavioral components, which led to some of the key elements upon which the Headsprout Sprout Learning™ technology is based. Also working with pigeons Dr. Layng investigated animal models of psychopathology, specifically the recurrence of pathological patterns (head-banging) as a function of normal behavioral processes. Dr. Layng has more than 35 years of experience in the experimental and applied learning sciences with a particular focus on the design of instruction. From 1991 to 1996, he was the director of the Academic Support Center, and then dean of Public Agency and Special Training Programs at Malcolm X College in Chicago. In 1992, Dr. Layng co-authored the seminal paper on Generative Instruction, which appeared in the American Psychologist. Dr. Layng has also extensive clinical experience and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.


Do You Have a Question ​for Dr Joe Layng?

Submit it here! ​​

Soooo many of you loved the podcast episode with Dr Joe Layng. If you recall our topic was “When R+ is Coercive and R- is Not. Forget Hierarchies! Behavioral Procedures are Non Linear.”  This episode generated a lot of discussion and feedback, likely because some of the information is new to the animal training community. Dr Layng has generously agreed to delve more into the topic on another episode. Here is your chance to ask your questions! What do you want to know that was not addressed in our last episode? Or was there something that needs more clarification?  I love how what I have learned from Dr Layng has influenced my training for the better. ​ Submit your questions below.

​(Due to the volume of questions we receive not all questions will be featured, however by submitting your question you will be included on our mailing list and directed to additional resources to help solve behavior problems and reach training goals. You can opt out at anytime at the bottom of each email)

Submit Your Question for Dr Layng Here

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