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Alex
“All behavior is a function of its consequences”. What does it mean? This sentence comes from my MBA course of Leadership.
Oct 1, 2016 2:12 PM
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Frankly, it sounds like gobbledegook to me. It might make more sense if I knew the context, particularly the next few sentence. "Is a function of" means "is determined by" or "is caused by." "All behavior is a function of its consequences" actually sounds like a logical impossibility, because the behavior causes the consequences, so how can those consequences be the cause of the behavior? It is probably shorthand for something like "All behavior is a function of its expected consequences," or "future behavior is shaped by the consequences of past behavior," or "the root cause of all behavior is the consequences that followed past behavior." It sounds like the writer belongs to "behaviorist" school of human psychology. Behavior is explained by what actions are followed by positive or negative reinforcement.
October 1, 2016
Yup, "behavior is a function of its consequences" is almost a slogan of behaviorism, much as "survival of the fittest" is a slogan of Darwinian evolutionary theory. I found an example of its use in a management text by doing a Google Books search. And I was right, the phrase is closely associated with the behaviorists, B. F. Skinner, and operant conditioning. The example I found explains it. In the slogan, "is a function of" apparently means "is shaped by" or "is molded by" or "is formed by" or "changes as a result of." http://tinyurl.com/hejo8tc "Reinforcement theory (also called 'operant conditioning') is generally associated with the work of B. F. Skinner. In its simplest form, reinforcement theory suggests that behavior is a function of its consequences. Behavior that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated (the employee will be motivated to repeat the current behavior), and behavior that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated (the employee will be motivated to engage in different behaviors). Reinforcement theory also suggests that in any given situation people explore a variety of possible behaviors. Future behavioral choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behavioral choices." I think that last sentence, "Future behavioral choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behavioral choices" is a much much better way to say it than "behavior is a function of its consequences." By the way, if I recall correctly Skinner's work showed that positive reinforcement (reward) was much more effective at shaping behavior than negative reinforcement (punishment), something that managers might well take to heart.
October 1, 2016
Alex
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
English