Have you ever seen behavior that appears to be sustained by a control function? You’re not by yourself. We understand as behavior analysts that behavior serves a purpose or function. Some behaviors are maintained by tangible reinforcers, such as food or attention, whereas others are maintained by an individual’s control over their environment.
One of the most important and fascinating concepts in behavior analysis is the control function of behavior. It refers to situations in which an individual engages in behavior in order to gain or maintain control of their surroundings. In other words, they are motivated to change their surroundings to accommodate their preferences, desires, or perceived needs. This is in contrast to behaviors that are maintained through positive, negative, or punitive reinforcement.
Brian Iwata, a well-known behavior analyst, was a forerunner in the study of control as a function of behavior. He and his colleagues have conducted extensive research on this subject, shedding light on why some people engage in problem behavior in order to gain control.
When a person engages in aggressive behavior to gain control of a situation, this is an example of the control function of behavior. A child, for example, may hit another child who is playing with a toy they want to play with in order to gain control of the toy. Similarly, a student may throw a tantrum in class in order to gain control of the situation and manipulate the teacher into allowing them to leave.
Another example is when a person engages in self-harming behavior, such as head-banging or self-hitting, in order to gain control of their environment. This may occur when they are overwhelmed or overstimulated and require a way to calm down or escape from the situation.
The function of the behavior in both examples is control. The individual is not seeking attention, a tangible item, or an escape from an unpleasant situation; instead, they are attempting to gain control over their surroundings in order to match their preferences or perceived needs.
Control as a function of behavior has significant implications for behavior analysis. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the individual’s point of view and how they perceive their surroundings. It also emphasizes the importance of interventions that target environmental changes and teach alternative coping skills to individuals who engage in problem behavior in order to gain control.
Finally, the control function of behavior is an important area of research in behavioral analysis. We can design effective interventions that target the root cause of the behavior and help individuals live more fulfilling lives if we understand why people engage in problem behavior to gain control.
We have come to recognize as behavior analysts that behavior is functional and serves a purpose. Typically, behavior is used to achieve a desired outcome or to avoid an unpleasant one. However, another function of behavior that is frequently overlooked is control. Control-maintained behavior is motivated by a desire to exert control over one’s surroundings and the people in them.
Control-maintained behavior is defined as behavior that is sustained by the individual’s desire to exert control over their surroundings or others. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as attempting to control the behavior of others or the events that occur in the environment. The following are some common examples of control-maintained behavior:
One of today’s most influential behavior analysts, Brian Iwata, has conducted extensive research on control-maintained behavior. He has discovered that it is a particularly difficult type of behavior to treat because the individual is motivated by a desire for control rather than a desire for a specific item or activity.
Control-maintained behavior can be difficult to treat because it is motivated by a desire for control. However, behavior analysts can employ a few strategies to assist individuals who engage in this type of behavior:
To sum it up, control-maintained behavior is a complex type of behavior motivated by the desire of the individual to control their environment and the people in it. While it can be difficult to treat, behavior analysts can help individuals who engage in this type of behavior by employing a variety of strategies. We can assist individuals in achieving their goals and living more fulfilling lives by understanding the function of behavior and employing evidence-based strategies.
Control-maintained behavior can manifest in a variety of ways, and recognizing the signs is critical in determining the most effective interventions. Here are some examples of behaviors that the control function may maintain:
Control-maintained behavior can be difficult to address because the individual frequently seeks control over their environment and the people in it. It is important to remember, however, that everyone deserves to feel in control of their lives. It is our responsibility as behavior analysts to teach appropriate ways to request or seek control rather than engaging in problem behavior.
Providing the individual with choices and opportunities to make decisions throughout the day is one effective strategy for addressing control-maintained behavior. This can make them feel more in control of their surroundings and less likely to engage in problem behavior to gain control.
It may also be beneficial to teach the individual more appropriate methods of requesting control, such as using a communication device or asking for a break. We can reduce the likelihood of problem behavior occurring by providing alternative modes of communication and teaching them how to effectively request what they want.
Finally, it is critical to consider why the individual may be seeking control in the first place. For example, they may be anxious or overwhelmed in certain situations and engage in problem behavior to cope. We can help reduce the likelihood of problem behavior occurring in the first place by addressing these underlying issues and providing support.
Overall, addressing control-maintained behavior necessitates a combination of strategies centered on giving the individual a sense of control, teaching appropriate methods of requesting control, and addressing underlying issues that may be contributing to the problem behavior. We can help individuals with control-maintained behavior live a more fulfilling and independent life by taking a proactive and individualized approach.