ABA technical concepts covered in this podcast: Functions of behaviour, Operant behaviour, Operant conditioning, learning history, autoclitic verbal behaviour, contextual cues, topography of behaviour, deprivation, satiation, attention-motivated behaviour, social positive attention, contrived contingencies, avoidance and escape motivated behaviour, tangibly motivated behaviour, sensory motivated behaviour, functional bias.
Presenters - Bobbi Hoadley, Cathy Knights.
Functions of behaviour. The common sense saying that “the proof is in the pudding” means it’s all about outcomes.
All behaviour is functional, it doesn’t mean it's purposeful. We don’t believe in dysfunctional behaviour, as that’s an impairment or deficit-based way of description. We look at behaviour as strengths-based, e.g. all behaviour can change, just as we grow and change as people. We may hold onto some for a long time, but the key to knowing how to change it is understanding the function it serves for us.
Behaviour has a learning history of ways we’ve adapted to our environment- over time, over settings, and with different people. Our brain has learned the short-cuts of how to interact with our world in effective, efficient, and reliable ways, but sometimes our level of awareness is practically nil. Actions speak louder than words because a lot of the time we’ll try to give an explanation, or get out of trouble. We don’t really know why, we're just responding to the environment in that moment. It is verbal behaviour, and when we say something out loud 3 times, we often believe it.
Never ask people why they did something, as everyone gives an answer- but the level of insight is quite variable. We are trained to give an answer, and it’s a red herring. So behaviour analysts use actions, e.g. I can say I’m a flexible, calm person, but then my actions show I am not in different situations. No one’s behaviour is all that reliable- either cognitive biases occur so that you don’t know what flexible behaviour is, or you learned a flexible behaviour but only in specific circumstances. We have certain resilience's, and certain trigger points. Behaviour is on a spectrum.
We have to be careful how we describe behaviours because words are so subjective and mean something different to many people. Use concrete and finite words-otherwise people think they know what the word means, so we cannot assume. We can all look at a behaviour and make assumptions, but we all have cognitive biases.
The laws of behaviour science are elegantly simple- they illuminate what we are seeing, and give us a pragmatic framework for problem solving. One of the frameworks is that all behaviour has a function. There are only four functions of humans:
A boss bangs on a table in a room full of his loud and noisy employees, and everyone in the room looks at him, turns away from him, and goes silent. This string of consequences could be attention from everyone; avoidance with everyone going back to work; needing bonus riding on the work – tangible; or holding in frustrations and needing a cathartic release - sensory. Actions speak louder than words, but we cannot make assumptions about what is going on. He was reinforced, and the consequence is maintaining it. One of these 4 is stronger than the rest in all of us. You therefore look at challenging behaviour in others and make assumptions based on your own underlying functions.
Mindfulness will improve by stopping the assumptions and accepting that maybe there needs to be more information.