Functions of Behavior

What are the functions of behavior? Every behavior under the sun will fall into these categories. Once you become familiar with these functions, it will help you be able to navigate and problem solve any behavior. The research shows that if a behavior is effective for us we will keep doing it. Similarly if it is not effective we will stop! That is why identifying the function is really important in order to change behavior. 

S: Sensory/Automatic Reinforcement 

We do it because it feels good!
– Stimming
– Chew gum
– Twirling your hair 

E: Escape/Avoidance 

We do it to get out of something we don’t like. This could be an internal or external event. Internal events include emotions or physical sensations we are trying to escape like anxiety or pain! External events are situations or people we don’t want to interact with!
– Hitting to get out of homework
– Watching netflix instead of cleaning your house
– Play with toys instead of getting dressed and getting ready in the morning. 

A: Attention Seeking 

Attention seeking behavior is done to get interaction with another person. That attention can be positive or negative. Even scolding or correcting a child who is attention seeking can reinforce and maintain the behavior. At times sighs, facial expression and other body language can reinforce attention seeking behavior.
– Licking
– Yelling in your face
– Pulling on your clothing
– Screaming 

T: Tangible 

Tangible refers to when we do something to get what we want. We could be seeking an object, an activity or even control of a situation.
– The behavior could be literally anything you do to get what you want!
– Crying
– Throwing things