Behavior modifiers have a language all of their own, it is a language full of technical jargon. A stimulus can be people, objects, and events in a person’s immediate environment that come into contact with any of the five senses. Stimulus control is just a predictable consistent response in the presence of a particular stimulus, for example, when my alarm goes off, I wake up. In this example the alarm clock is the stimulus, and waking up is the response. In other words, when a stimulus occurs, a predictable response will occur. Stimulus discrimination means that a person has been taught a particular response when presented with a particular stimulus. An example of this is public restrooms, people are taught from a very young age how to determine the sign that means the bathroom they can use. For example, if you are male then you are taught that the bathroom sign with the picture of a male is a restroom that is available for you to use, this is stimulus discrimination. The person in this scenario must also be taught that the restroom sign with the picture of a woman means that the restroom is not available for use.
To set up a stimulus discrimination training program you must first designate symbols that indicate when the behavior is supposed to occur and when the behavior is not to occur. Choose a reward for when the person engages in the desired behavior. So let’s go back to the restroom example, so the first thing you would do is to teach the person the male and female signs for restrooms. Make sure you reward the person each time they distinguish correctly between the men and women’s restroom signs. Next you would take the person to various public restrooms and reward the person for picking the correct restroom to use, and reteach the person each time the person picks the wrong restroom. You would continue this process until the person was able to pick correct restroom %100 of the time.
Martin, G. & Pear, J. (2011). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (9th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.