4 Functions Of Behavior – How to Better Understand Them

All behavior, according to applied behavior analysis, occurs for a purpose. Behavior analysts approach this concept from the standpoint of the behavioral premise that behavior is sustained by a function. There are four functions of behavior in the ABA field.

There’s a reason we act the way we do. Even though it isn’t always obvious, our actions make reason and have a purpose. If a youngster is acting badly, it is because the behavior is satisfying a specific need. That is why you need to understand the 4 functions of behavior to better deal with it.
It’s crucial to understand the four roles of conduct while educating children and becoming better educator. Continue reading to learn about the functions so you can learn how to change the behavior in the future.

Understanding That Behaviors Occur for a Reason

It’s crucial to understand the background before we break down the 4 Functions Of Behavior. This idea is frequently used by ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysts, to determine why a person continues to participate in a particular behavior.

This refers to the notion that a behavior has a cause. It might be difficult to comprehend why an adult or kid engages in a behavior, especially if it is bad such as violence or self-injury, but understanding the underlying purpose will assist.

At the same time, behavior can perform many functions. A youngster may act out in order to get a teacher’s attention or because he or she is frustrated with having to finish academic work.

If harmful behaviors emerge, knowing how the function works can also assist lead a therapy approach. So, what are the four behavioral functions identified by the American Behavioral Association (ABA)?

What are the 4 Functions of Behavior

It’s critical to realize that all acts have a purpose. Human conduct may be divided into four categories. Escape, attention, access to tangibles, and sensation are the four functions.

It’s important to note that these four behavior categories don’t always mean that the activities are “evil.” Both positive and bad behavior activities are labeled in these categories.

“Everybody EATS” is a simple approach to remembering these 4 functions.

Function #1 Escape:

A person participates in an activity in order to get rid of or avoid something they don’t like.

example #3: Ms. ANA sets a vocabulary homework on Mary’s desk, and she rips it up and throws it on the floor every time. Ms. ANA does not need her to complete her vocabulary assignment as a result. Mary will continue to participate in this behavior whenever she receives a vocabulary worksheet in the future since it allows her to avoid doing the vocabulary work.

Example #2: Diana throws a tantrum whenever her instructor, Ms.Jenning, makes a demand. Ms. Jenning will instruct Diana to clean up her mess, and Diana will immediately start tantruming. The tantrum will continue until Ms. Jennings thinks that it would be quicker to tidy up the toys herself rather than enlist Diana’s help. Diana will continue to participate in this conduct whenever a demand (such as cleaning up) is placed on her in the future since it allows her to avoid having to clean up.

Suggestions & Solutions Some tactics that may be successful if the person you’re dealing with is evading a demand or task are:

  • Making use of a first-then board
  • Using a graphic calendar
  • Using social storytelling TM to establish a positive rapport
  • Providing options
  • Expectations that are clear
  • Carry it out.

Function #2: Attention

An individual engages in a behavior to receive attention.

The person acts in a certain way in order to gain the attention of their parents, instructors, siblings, peers, or other individuals in their environment.

EXAMPLE: A child will whine until the adult pays attention to them. The child learns that whining will garner their parent’s attention.

EXAMPLE: The therapist is having a conversation with another adult (parent or another staff). A child hurls an object across the treatment room. The therapist looks at the youngster and tells him that he needs to tidy up his toy (or the therapist starts interacting with the child again). The child learns that tossing attracts the therapist’s attention.

NOTE ON ATTENTION: Positive attention isn’t the only type of attention that may be given. The attention that does not appear to be pleasant, such as the caregiver speaking in a severe tone or attempting to explain why the kid should engage in acceptable conduct, may be enough to continue the behavior.

Function #3 Tangibles

To get access to an object or activity, a person participates in a behavior. A tangible is anything that can be touched or picked up. Individuals with autism develop attachments to strange objects such as straws, rocks, old paper, dirt, flags, and sticks, among other things.

EXAMPLE: At the checkout counter, a child requests sweets. I’d like some sweets, says the child. No, says the parent. The child continues to cry and scream about wanting sweets. The parent allows the youngster to have sweets. The child discovers that weeping and whimpering will fetch him or her sweets.

EXAMPLE: A child wishes to play with a toy that he enjoys. The toy is being held by the therapist. To take the toy, the youngster grabs it (or child whines and grabs for the toy). The toy is given by the therapist. Instead of speaking or utilizing PECS or another form of communication, the child learns that grasping for the object (with or without complaining) gives him the toy.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Merely waving toward something he wants, tugging a caregiver’s hand in the direction of what he wants, or simply staring in the direction of what he wants are examples of access-maintained behavior (when a caregiver has learned to read his body posture and facial expressions)

Function #3 Sensory

A person participates in action because it physically feels good or alleviates a negative emotion. The person acts in a certain manner because it makes them feel good. Sensory behaviors are a term used to describe this.

  1. EXAMPLE: Child is crying because child has an earache. (In this example, the crying isnt due to a factor outside the childs body. Instead, it is due to an experience the child is having inside.)
  2. EXAMPLE: Child scratches his skin because of eczema or bug-bites to relieve itching.

NOTE ABOUT AUTOMATIC REINFORCEMENT: In the above example, scratching is not a self-injurious behavior as sometimes seen in escape or access-maintained behaviors. Although scratching ones self can be maintained by other functions, in this example, it is to relieve itching, an automatic or sensory experience.