Functions of the behavior of intention are, as they imply, a means to an end. An intention is something you wish to do or something you hope to attain. An intention alone will not lead to any behavior, but if you have no way to achieve your intentions or if you are in a situation that makes it impossible for you to deliberately bring about the desired ends, then those functions of the behavior of intention will lead to behavior.
Thus, a person who consciously decides to commit theft may do so unwillingly and without considering his motives. His commitment to his theft may be wholly selfish, but his inability to control his thoughts or to think logically will make him commit theft. His inability to reason correctly or to concentrate may be a function of his having been hoodwinked by the wants of the moment.
Similarly, functions of the behavior of intention are sometimes not a function of intention at all because they are the result of some other factor, such as the environment, another person, or a set of circumstances. These functions of the behavior of intention are usually not conscious but come about without any guidance from the conscious mind.
For example, the desire for fame and reputation can easily lead to a desire for wealth. If the person was aware that this was a function of his desire for fame and reputation, then he would probably have sought some other means of achieving them. However, the fact that this desire comes unbidden and on its own shows that it is not a function of intention, but rather a result of some other causal factor.
Because these functions of the behavior of intention cannot be controlled by anyone, an intervention plan was necessary if there was to be any chance of controlling behavior. The intervention plan could not be a plan concerning what was to be done or a series of instructions about how to behave. Rather, it had to be a plan concerning what to do in each specific case. It had to take into account the unique features of each person who was involved in the situation and to tailor an intervention plan to address those features. This is why the so-called ‘social capital’ is a product of diffuse intervention strategies that have been developed over time.
The same features of the behavior of intention that made it a product of diffuse intervention also make it a product of extinction procedures. Extinction procedures are the procedures for dealing with behaviors that are no longer appropriate. They apply to desires, needs, interests, and other aspects of our being. A good extinction procedure takes into account the special features of individual cases and decides what needs to be preserved and what needs to be eliminated. Once the procedures are in place, people can easily choose to live in a way that meets their intentions and to avoid behaviors that do not meet their standards.
The functions of the behavior of intention are not limited to situations where those intentions are already obvious and when those intentions are self-enforceable. In addition, we all have certain pre-existing purposes that were not considered relevant to us when we were alive. These functions of the behavior of intention can be used in situations where we have not identified a new purpose for being in the world or we are not acting out of a desire to accomplish something significant. For example, in some sex therapy situations, clients needed help getting more aroused and thus had a purpose for being in the therapy in the first place. In other situations, they did not know they were having an orgasmic experience because they were undergoing reframing the act as something else, such as arousal or foreplay.
The functions of the behavior of intention are important for us because they allow us to gain attention and create the appropriate behaviors whenever we want. This creates a system that works efficiently, even when the circumstances are not suitable. When we know the functions of the behavior of intention, it is easier to use them when necessary rather than trying to force ourselves to behave in the ways that might be inappropriate. If we learn how to use our own processes to create the appropriate behaviors whenever we want to, then it becomes easy to gain attention and create the behaviors that are meaningful to us. Sometimes the attention we seek is not always forthcoming. When this happens, it becomes easier to redirect the attention we are seeking and gain the attention we need.
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Most people believe that the functions of the behavior are internalized in the brain and that it is the thoughts of the individual which activate these functions. While this may be true for some people who develop extra-sensory functions of the behavior, it is false in general. Just as the functions of the behavior do not depend on the thoughts which they are activated by, neither do the thoughts affect these functions. This means that the individual, upon coming upon a thought that activates the particular function of the behavior, does not have to consciously decide to activate that function.
Functions of the behavior. The five functions of the behavior are directed, automatic, reactive, impulsive, restrained, and focused. Let us study each separately. Directed functions of the behavior are those that are self-directed or those that are directed to someone else. For example, when you make a positive remark about somebody, you automatically reinforce that remark with a smile, a nod, or a comment of your own which reinforces the statement.
Automatic functions of the behavior are those that are self-induced and thus do not depend on the direction of anyone. These can include, among other things, eye contact, maintaining a focused attention on the assignment at hand, completing your sentences, using appropriate facial expression, maintaining a level or controlled temper, dressing appropriately, or even paying attention to details.
Reactive behaviors, which are the reactions to disruptive behavior, are often considered self-willed but are affected by the feelings of the people around. Impulsive functions of the behavior are those that are done without thinking or other considerations and include such things as crossing the street, talking on the telephone, gossiping, and so on.