Be A Trapper Dan to Conquer Resistant Behavior

December 12, 2020 By upshot

How many times have you wanted to change a behavior but found it too difficult and got discouraged? Perhaps you quit, or you tell yourself it’s not important or it doesn’t really matter. Behaviorists have suggested using a “trap” to make changes in our lives. We can take a lesson from Trapper Dan:

1)    Identify your prey—what personal/social areas do you need the most help with? Be sure to target behaviors that are relevant, functional, and that lend themselves to frequent practice opportunities.
2)    Find powerful bait—what do you like? What are you already good at that can set you up for success?
3)    Set the trap—place coveted materials in your path. You can do this by forming groups and finding activities for yourself based on interests.
4)    Maintain your trap—start small. Use variety and give your trap a break periodically.
5)    Appraise your catch—assess the changes in the targeted skills frequently and directly. Make modifications or set another trap if ineffective.

Here are some examples:

Mary wanted to lose weight but hated exercise. Her trap… she loved animals. With two big dogs that she must walk at least two times a day, Mary is getting plenty of exercise and losing weight.

Ben wanted to stop his swearing on the golf course. His trap… playing golf with his pastor. Ben’s censorship is a success.

George identified he had a pornography addiction. His trap… an accountability app that let his support group know when he was on a questionable sight. George is feeling the success of beating this addiction.

A progressive company was aware of hostility building between production and design departments. Their trap… monthly meetings with a consultant to address communication styles and areas of impasse.

So get started! Set your trap to make the behavioral change you desire.

Wayne McKamie

*Alber and Heward (1996) outlined these five steps to design and use “behavior traps” and I made a few changes to fit our group. I encourage you check out their article.

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