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PICNIC - Bringing Out the Best in People

Why do people keep bad habits while knowing they should change?

How to use positive strategies to get people to do more of what we'd like them to do?

There must be a way to bring out the best in people!

Family having a picnic by the river

The one thing that I believe was the most important concept in the book "Bringing out the best in people" by Aubrey C. Daniels is the PICNIC acronym. These six letters make it easy to analyze behaviors and predict the probability of re-occurrence in the future.

PIC-NIC is broken down in two parts:

PIC stands for:




NIC stands for:




Book cover "Bringing out the best in people" by Aubrey C. Daniels

A consequence that is Positive - Immediate - Certain has more chances to reinforce a behavior and increase its chances of happening again in the future.

For example, eating a doughnut will have a PIC consequence. The moment the doughnut touches your tongue, you can taste the deliciousness of it and the sugar rush. It makes you feel good immediately every time you take a bite.

To stay with a food related example, taking a few multivitamins in the morning has a NIC consequence: Negative - Immediate - Certain. Most multivitamins I tried don't tase good or taste like nothing. They are sometimes difficult to swallow even with a glass of water. There is a negative aspect to it immediately, every time. I hope long-term it will keep my body filled with the right vitamins and nutrients and I will be able to maintain an active lifestyle. I hope because I am not certain all the vitamins and nutrients in the multivitamin are bioavailable or my body will process them as they should. I know the immediate consequence of taking them is negative and the future consequence might be positive.

For this reason, the PIC consequences are more likely to reduce the likelihood of a behavior re-occurring.

PIC-NIC is the easy to remember acronym to analyze a consequence.

Like in the multivitamins example, we briefly mentioned "Future" and "Uncertain". These are the two other variables used to analyze a consequence.

Two other variations decreasing the likelihood of the behavior re-occurring:

Future (as opposed to immediate)

Uncertain (as opposed to certain)

A behavior that will have a Positive - Future - Uncertain consequence, just like it would be of a Negative - Future - Certain consequence, will not be reinforced as much as a behavior with an immediate consequence.

This demonstrate the importance to use positive reinforcement immediately after the preferred behavior has occurred.

In summary, to predict the likelihood of a behavior happening again in the future, these six variables are highly useful:

  • Positive vs Negative

  • Immediate vs Future

  • Certain vs Uncertain

Immediate consequences (positive or negative) are more likely to influence the probability of a behavior re-occurring.

If this makes sense, but you are wondering how you can use this knowledge to drive positive behavior change with your child, book now your complimentary 30-minute Discovery Call with our Board Certified Behavior Analyst to discuss strategies to implement!

If you would like some guidance to teach your child cooperation , book your complimentary call with our Board Certified Behavior Analyst to develop a teaching plan and get a social story.

P.s. Aubrey C. Daniels support businesses and organisations using Organisational Behavior Management practices. You can find more information about his work at Safety & Leadership Training | Aubrey Daniels International


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