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10 Laws of Shaping

By Karen Pryor

1. Raise criteria in increments small enough that the subject always has realistic chance for reinforcement

2. Train one aspect of any particular behavior at a time; don't try to shape for two criteria at the same time.

3. Put a behavior on variable reinforcement schedule before adding or raising criteria

4. When introducing a new criterion or aspect of the behavioral skill, temporarily relax the old ones.

5. Stay ahead of your subject: Plan your shaping program completely so that if the subject makes sudden progress, you know what to reinforce next.

6. Don't change trainers midstream; you can have multiple trainers per trainee but stick to one shaper per behavior.

7. If your shaping procedure is not showing progress; switch to another. There are many ways to reach a desired behavior.

8. Don't interrupt training; it can be a punishment

9. If behavior deteriorates, "go back to square one" review the whole shaping process with a series of easily earned reinforcers

10. End each session on a high note but also quit while your ahead.

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