Tips For Behavior Modification, Conditioning and Development

B.F. Skinner, known as the “Father of Behaviorism” developed a theory of operant conditioning, which states that all behavior is governed by reinforcing and punishing stimuli. Behavior modification uses a scheduled approach that rewards desired behavior and punishes undesirable behavior.

Many people get offended if you mention child psychology (or heaven forbid, dog training) in a conversation about behavior modification in the adult BDSM sense of the term. But, the fact is that the basic psychological principles of behavior modification and operant conditioning work equally well on any age group.


1. Successive Approximation Approach

This approach is to instill new behavior by rewarding preferred action steps until the final demanded behavior is achieved. For instance, ear scratches or simply showing affection by the Dominant to the submissive can be very rewarding.

2. Continuous Reinforcement Approach

Immediate reward after each correct and desired action is being carried out, continuously, to reinforce desired behavior. For instance, saying “thank you” is a good way to show appreciation, and hence the acknowledgment of the correct action by the Dominant, may be considered a gentle reward to the submissive.

3. Negative Reinforcement Approach

Appropriate and proportional punishment of the submissive when desired action is not carried out. Punishment should not be enjoyable, if pain is pleasurable for the submissive, then it is not considered as punishment.

4. Modelling Approach

Arranging for the submissive to watch the behavior being carried out by others, and working together with guidance. For instance, teaching the submissive how to tie a rope, or serve morning coffee, by performing the act for the observation of the learner. This is often a socialisation process, where a submissive who is new to the space can observe the environment to learn a set of desired behaviors.

5. Cueing Approach

Continuously providing clear and specific social cues or reminders, at a desired time and location. The cues should happen before the action being carried out, as opposed to after the individual has acted incorrectly. For example, “Kneel, beside the front door” can be a social cue at a particular time of the day when it is desired.

6. Discrimination Approach

To instill a particular act in some circumstances but not other circumstances, rewards can be given only when the action is carried out in the desired circumstances.


1. Decreasing Reinforcement Approach

The frequency of rewards for desired behavior can be decreased and substituted with gentle encouragement, gradually stretching the requirement for rewards associated with correct behaviour. You see this in dog training, where the trainer reduces the treats when the pet is performing well to a command, and begins to associate the treats with a new command the trainer wishes to teach.

2. Variable Reinforcement Approach

When correct behavior is carried out, varying the reinforcement behaviour or rewards is a better way to maintain/improve the submissive’s performance than always associating the same reward with the action.


1. Satiation Approach

It may be appropriate in some cases to allow (or even command) the submissive to carry out the undesired behavior until they get bored and tired of deviation.

2. Extinction Approach

Every reward can be stopped if an undesired behavior is carried out.

3. Incompatible Alternative Approach

Rewarding an alternative opposite or opposing action to the one that is undesired may cause the submissive to act on the positive action and, at the same time, stop acting on the undesired behavior.

4. Punishment Approach

If an action is to be punished, punishment should happen immediately after the undesired action. Bear in mind that punishment does not always work. It may result in increased aggression and hostility. It should therefore be used in proportion to the action, and in conjunction with other reinforcement.


1. Avoidance Approach

To prevent a child becoming addicted to video games, the simplest approach is to not allow them to play games in the first place. It also follows that they should not be left in the company of friends who enjoy playing games. In BDSM, this approach also applies. Do not allow your submissive to start acting in a way that is inappropriate, and avoid situations where the kind of action you are avoiding takes place.

2. Fear Reduction Approach

A submissive can overcome his fear of a particular situation if his exposure to that situation is slowly increased, slowly stretching his comfortable level with reward when he is relaxed, secure and not fearful.


• These techniques are based largely on “Principles for Using Behavior Modification” by  W. Huitt
• Deviance & Desire – Behavior Modification Using Reinforcement and Punishment
• X|C|BDSM – Submissive Training, Conditioning and Development
• Dominant Life – SF’s Guide to Behaviour Modification
• The Kinky World of Vile – Behavior Modification is Alive and Well
• Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed – The Psychology of Conditioning in a D/s Relationship

4 Comments Add yours

  1. As a semantic distinction, it’s important to note that Negative reinforcement is NOT the same as punishment. “Reinforcement” means something you are doing to reward good behavior. Negative means something is being removed by the person in charge of the training, while positive means that something is being added. So negative reinforcement would mean that you are removing a negative stimulus as a reward for good behavior. For instance, if the standard rule is that a sub wear a spiked chastity device at all times, but he has been good this week, you might remove it for a few hours as a reward. That is negative reinforcement.

    The application of an unpleasant sensation in order to discourage bad behavior would be called “positive punishment”.

    1. MasterMarc says:

      Hi Isaac… Thanks for that. You’re absolutely right. Reinforcement and punishment are not the same, and I’ve definitely been caught out a few times being sloppy with my language. We looked at that here: and how it does give the Dom four separate tools to work with… and four separate tools that can backfire if used incorrectly.

  2. vile says:

    I am a huge fan of behavior modification , and I have found positive reinforcement is not only beneficial but it works.
    physical punishment is something I steer away from , I have found through out the years to be less effective , than sitting someone down and talking. It seems when an adult is correcting another adult the out come is more positive but somewhat humiliating.

    Changing someones behavior has to be consistent , hourly , daily , weekly. I think there may be times when a Dominant may let their feelings get in the way at times causing a disruption in training , or a strict relationship.

    I have enjoyed this article , I wish I could share this on my blog…

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