This Article is Part of a Five Part Series.A significant portion of my professional career has been devoted to behavior analysis and modification. Initially, my success rate was not as high as it currently is because I failed to take into account the underlying temperaments of the subjects and clients. This realization has improved my effectiveness in public educations, corrections counseling and private counseling to an enormous, even immeasurable degree. Although, it is impossible to put the entirety of these findings here, I have managed to distill a few of the major tenets. Most behavior is learned.
Whether by design, or by chance, an exhibited behavior has yielded a desirable result at some time.Consider your arrival home from the market. You are greeted by your cat, which comes to investigate your recent purchases. While you set about opening the can of tuna for the kitty, she entwines herself about your ankles and in the process bumps her head three times against the cabinet. Coincidentally, at this exact moment you place the food in her dish.
"Tah-Dah!" You have just witnessed the birth of a "learned behavior.' Now, every time you prepare to feed the cat, she bumps her head three times on the cabinet. In her mind the two are connected as cause and effect. Of course this is an extreme over simplification, but you may draw your own parallels to human behavior.
Systematically repeating an action until you automatically perform the action without consciously thinking about it is the working definition for a habit. This holds true for positive behaviors such as brushing your teeth after meals as well as negative behaviors such as having a smoke after dinner (see for example the classroom procedures of Harry K. Wong and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).Once a habit is established, it takes at least 2 to 4 weeks of consciously substituting a positive replacement behavior before the bad habit is considered to be "broken." Behavior can be adapted; personality can adjust to the environment; but underlying temperament can not be changed. Keep these truths in mind when thinking about behavior management.
Practically applied this means, placing a choleric temperament in a subservient role will always result in discord and displays of maladaptive behaviors. 5. Temperament, or ones core "self" is not determined by gender, age, ethnicity or economic status. Attempting to modify a maladaptive behavior without taking into account the underlying temperament will only lead to frustration on the part of the individual attempting to change the maladaptive behavior.
This is true whether the individual is attempting to change their own behavior or another individual is attempting to modify the behavior of a subject or client. This is one instance in which the adage, "fake it until you make it," simply does not apply.Reg Adkins..
By: Reg Adkins