Ep 152: How Do You Change Your Behavior? Interview with Scott Milford

MichaelLearning/Memory, Motivation13 Comments

How does Behavior Modification work? Find out in this episode as I interview Scott Milford, author of the Behavior and Motivation website. If you’re about how to apply Psychology to everyday life then this is the guy to show you how he does it. In this episode we talk about how to get kids to practice the piano, but you’ll quickly see how this approach could be applied to all kinds of other life challenges. Scott developed his approach over many years of working with young people both at the piano and with at-risk adolescents in school. See how Psychology can be put to work!

Resources on Token Economy

  • If you’d like to learn more about the behavior modification system Scott Milford discussed in this episode, or more about how he applies motivation theory to other aspects of life, check out his Behavior and Motivation website.
  • While on Scott’s site, check out his special Report, called, “Getting Results with Token Reward Systems“, which is available to subscribers of the site. The Special Report covers not only how to motivate yourself, but also how to motivate children and students. In the report Scott shares a real-life examples of how to use a token economy for each.
  • Here’s Scott’s Facebook page
  • Here’s where you can follow Scott on twitter
  • My tips on how to use a Token Economy system (along with a few tips from Scott’s system as well):

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13 Comments on “Ep 152: How Do You Change Your Behavior? Interview with Scott Milford”

  1. Ricker,

    Hey, thanks for the great comment and for signing up for the special report. I hope you like it.

    A lot of people are interested in my Point System book for motivating piano students to practice, and I know Michael is interested too. So who knows? I may be back on when that comes out. But I’d be happy to come back on at any time, if invited.

    Thanks for stopping by, here and at behavior and motivation


  2. Enjoyed listening to the podcast and took a look at behaviorandmotivation.com afterwards, even signed up for the special report. Scott should be a guest more often!

  3. Michael,

    By all means. Feel free to use whatever you’d like to use. My desire (and yours too, I’m sure) is to offer anything that may be meaningful and useful to people right away. My goal is to help connect people with information that they can apply in practical, real-life situations.

    Anything I say that can contribute to this purpose, means I’m doing what I most enjoy doing.


  4. Right you are Scott. I had it in my mind to mention that while in some cases making the chart public is a good idea, in other it’s not – especially if you’re in a house with multiple kids where comparison/competition is likely. This could undermine the success of the whole system. I was going to mention this point in the episode, so much to talk about!

    If it’s okay with you I’ll copy some of your comment above and put it into the map (with credit to you of course).

  5. Michael,

    I believe that the tip, “put the chart in a public place” needs to be used with a little caution. If there is only one child, then there’s probably not going to be an issue.

    In families with two or more children, there are dynamics that could have a reverse effect; instead of motivating, one child may feel pressure from having an older sibling doing better. Younger children may not be capable of reasoning that since the sibling is older, they will naturally excel or make faster progress.

    If this is the case, a good strategy might be that each child has different goals and different ways to measure progress. Even if they have the same goal or target behavior, having a different way to measure progress may be useful. Use stars in boxes on a grid for one child, “nuudles” in a jar for another child, and maybe computer-made play money or point coupons for the oldest child, to name a few examples.

    When kids think they’re being compared to a sibling, they may feel that if the sibling is doing better (making faster progress), he or she may be more loved than the child who is progressing more slowly (or even at a normal pace).

    So posting the chart on the refrigerator, for example, should be used attentively, in case it’s having a reversed effect and needs to be changed.


  6. Susan,

    That looks great. I can see why you’re so intrigued by this. What career specialty have you selected or are you leaning toward?


  7. Scott,

    Here is a copy of the unit overview:

    This unit addresses how psychological principles can be applied to understand and help solve a broad range of environmental problems, including: climate change, overpopulation, resource depletion, pollution, and the loss of biodiversity.

    Major psychological perspectives (eg, psychoanalytic, social, behavioural, physiological, cognitive, and developmental) are reviewed in terms of their potential contribution to solving these problems and building sustainable societies. Students learn through class discussions, online activities, and a major applied project.

    It was a life-changing unit for me. I am now seriously reconsidering my future Psychological career options. This is a fairly new area for Psychology, the environmental issues. But, a vitally important one I believe.

    Interesting times ahead!


  8. Michael,

    I like the chart of how to use token economies. One thing that is key, in my view, is that you not only ask and reinforce target behaviors, but that you, yourself, demonstrate those same behaviors at all times (if it applies).

    Kids are really good at noticing incongruent adult behavior. Sending mixed signals is never helpful.

    So if a person want’s to use a token reward system, they need to also be aware of their own behavior. It’s a two-way street.


  9. Susan,

    First, thanks for your comment and for spreading the word. 🙂

    Psychology of Sustainability? Sounds interesting. So is it an exploration of the ways we would need to change our behaviors in order to create more sustainable ways of living in a more eco-friendly way?

    Thanks for your support.


  10. Michael and Scott,

    Thank you for such an interesting discussion. I had not heard the term token economies before, so found it fascinating.

    I just finished semester and one of the 3rd year elective units I took was Psychology of Sustainability. My major project was to design an intervention for an environmental problem. Naturally enough, most, if not all of our environmental problems are really human behavioural problems, so your discussion was very valid and appropriate for me at this time too.

    I look forward to learning more from you both. I am also spreading the word of both your websites…I firmly believe the more who get this information, the more chance of a brighter future for us all.

    Many thanks again,
    Cheers from Australia

  11. Michael,

    I really enjoyed the discussion with you. I believe we could have filled a couple of hours. Nice intro/outro for the episode too.

    Although, I’d like to make one correction. During your closing comments, you mentioned that I have a special report available that shows how to use token economies for motivating yourself, but that’s only one part of it. 🙂

    The motivation special report, “Getting Results with Token Reward Systems”, that’s available to subscribers of http://behaviorandmotivation.com, covers not only how to motivate yourself, but also how to motivate children, and students. And in the report, I share a real-life example of how to use a token economy for each.

    Thanks for the conversation, Michael.


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