However, I simply do not like plain water. I have been known to enjoy a glass or two but only if it is really cold. It is hard to keep 2 liters of water cold in my particular workplace. Tea is my favorite non-cola beverage but once again I prefer it cold and the difficulty associated with this preference has already been mentioned. Without even officially tracking it, I feel it is important to make my target behavior to increase my water intake daily.
Since I am a schedule-oriented person I began by determining the time in which the behavior was to take place. Since most of my day is spent at work, the target behavior would most easily been accomplished during that time. I then set the parameters of a work day as beginning at 0815, ending at 1520, and including all of the time and activities in-between. I also decided to go with the doctor's suggestion of tea as it is preferential to water. From this point on, references to water will actually be tea but the need to differentiate between the two should not be necessary. With my target behavior in mind, it became vital to determine how much water I drink in an average day before setting the goal for an increase.
The behavioral modification process described in the assignment instructions is called a simple time-series design (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). In this process a series of observations are made prior to initiating a plan to modify the behavior and then again after the plan has been enforced to determine if learning has occurred. The observations made prior to the reinforcement form the baseline data and I have recorded my baseline data in the chart below. This reveals that I drink an average of 0.95 liters of water per day. I would like to see that number closer to 1.5 and eventually building up to 2 liters!
Table 1: Baseline Data for April 21-25, 2008
Water Consumer (L)
.5(4) + 1.25 + 1.5 / 5 = .95 L
Now that I had decided on a reasonable goal to which to increase my water consumption, I had to decide exactly how to go about drinking more water! This was not be the first time I have attempted this. In the past I have tried buying individual bottles that are easily stored but which sit in the common refrigerator forgotten in the mad pace of a regular work day. I have tried freezing my beverage and carrying it with me to drink cold as the ice melts only to find it too messy around my papers and dangerous to the electronics. I have refused to carry dollar bills and change in an effort to make the vending machine less appealing as the simple choice for a drink. (By way of further explanation tea sold in most vending machines is high in sugar and caffeine so do more harm to my health regiment than good. I find it beneficial to drink green or caffeine-free teas made with Splenda.) I have even enlisted the aid of friends who put hot sauce in my inappropriate drinks if they saw me with one. This last step may have been the most influential of my efforts but it had the exact opposite effect. I simply did not drink anything except for brief stops at the water fountain for tepid water which was almost as bad as the hot sauce.
The addition of the hot sauce was an added consequence linked to a specific action. The use of specific consequences to increase or decrease a specific behavior is called reinforcement