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Defining Behavior

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

#TLDR: Six characteristics to define a behavior (useful for you to think about what to focus on in #PBJAM)


One of the comprehensive books for Behavior Modification is "Behavior Modification: Principles and Procedures" by Raymond G. Miltenberger (6th edition now). Though academic in nature, I like the way he defines behavior. Here is the excerpt on characteristics that define a behavior:

  1. Behavior is described by action verbs

  2. Behavior has measurable properties (e.g. how often, how long, how intense, etc.) called dimensions

  3. Behaviors can be observed, described and recorded

  4. Behaviors have impact on environment (physical and/or social)

  5. Behavior is systemically influenced by environmental events (e.g. if your manager is regularly interested in what you are working on, then the behavior of slacking has lower chance of occurrence)

  6. Behaviors may be overt or covert. Overt behaviors (e.g. interrupting your colleagues in meetings) are easier to observe and modify, while covert behaviors (e.g. lacking confidence to speak up against unfair treatment of a colleague) require personal reflection and presence of mind to change.

When you are trying to think of a behavior that you want to modify, think of the above characteristics and you will reach a more well defined behavior to work on! As you know, defining problem correctly is half the battle... :)

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