Monday, October 10, 2011

Negative behaviors and intrinsic motivation - SDT

To be self- determined is to endorse one's actions at the highest level of reflection
When self determined , people experience a sense of freedom to do what is interesting, personally important and vitalizing   - Deci and Ryan

Self Determination theory examines factors which affect our intrinsic motivation to engage in positive and meaningful behavior.

 Can  people who are involved in negative behaviors be also intrinsically motivated ?

A - negative behaviors are an expression of the unmet SDT needs  - autonomy , competence- lagging skills and relatedness 

B Being self determined we operate on higher levels as subjects not objects -( see next blog article )

  I think Ross Greene's Collaborative problem solving approach for challenging children -  compatible with SDT -  can offer some insight.  

CPS says that children do well if they can ,- the same I believe goes for adults - they would prefer to be successful and adaptive , so their negative behaviors and problems are a product of demands placed on the kid that outstrip their skills in the context of unmet needs or concerns.

In other words negative behavior happens when the basic needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness are not met. Positive behavior occurs when these needs are being met.

Greene's says our interventions will hinge on the function we attribute to negative behavior - Lost at School 

' For the unfamiliar, a functional assessment (sometimes called a functional analysis) is a procedure through which the function (causes, purposes, goals) of a kid’s challenging behavior is identified. Though FBAs are common in schools, the information gathered through and inferences drawn from a functional analysis vary depending on the orientation, training, and experience of the evaluator conducting the procedure.

A core assumption guiding most FBAs is that maladaptive behavior is “working” for a kid by allowing him to “get” something desirable (e.g., attention, peer approval) or “escape” or “avoid” something undesirable (e.g., a difficult, tedious, unpleasant task). 

The belief that challenging behaviors are somehow “working” for a kid leads many adults to the conclusion that those behaviors are purposeful -- what might be referred to as the intentionality attributional bias -- and this can set the stage for misguided statements such as, “It must be working for him or he wouldn’t be doing it.” This mentality invariably sets the stage for interventions aimed at punishing kids’ challenging behaviors so the behaviors don’t “work” anymore, and rewarding adaptive replacement behaviors to encourage ones that “work” better. This is the foundation of most school discipline programs.

But this definition of “function” reflects what I call the “first pass” of a functional assessment. There’s an indispensable “second pass” – a deeper level of analysis – that, regrettably, often goes neglected: What lagging skills account for why the kid is getting, avoiding, and escaping in such a maladaptive fashion? This question springs from the core mentality of the CPS model (Kids do well if they can) and from the assumption that if a kid could get, escape, or avoid in an adaptive fashion – in a way that “worked” without causing all the misery that accompanies his challenging behavior – he surely would. When one is focused on the “second pass” of a functional assessment, it becomes clear that the essential function of challenging behavior is to communicate to adults that a kid doesn’t possess the skills to handle certain challenges under certain conditions. This belief sets the stage for interventions aimed at teaching lagging cognitive skills and helping kids solve the problems that are precipitating their challenging behavior

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