[From Fred Nickols (2006.11.09.1425 EST)] --
[From Bill Powers (2006.11.09.1110 MST)]
But people very often refer to the perceptual component of behavior as if
they're describing an action. Would you consider centering the sights of a
gun on a target to be an overt behavior? Would adjusting the contrast of a
TV be a behavior? How about keeping a car moving along in the right lane,
or baking a cake, or adjusting a clock to standard time? Mailing a letter?
Scoring a touchdown? Arguing with a friend?
Ah, thanks for the reminder. I've fallen into the trap of using "behavior"
in a sloppy manner. FWIW, I once pointed out to Bob Mager that one of his
exemplary behavioral objectives wasn't behavioral at all. It had to do with
adjusting an audiometer and I indicated that "adjusting" wasn't a behavior,
it was a patterned set of behaviors (e.g., extending one's forearm, grasping
the tuning knob, etc). By "patterned behaviors" I think I mean what you are
referring to as "actions" - well, at least that's what I mean.
Not one of those descriptions of "behaviors" mentions what we would
observe the person actually, overtly, doing. They all describe perceived
consequences of the overt acts actually being performed. In fact, what we
would observe the person actually doing might be very different each time
we would say the same behavior is occurring. We don't really mean that the
same actions are occurring; we mean that the same perceived result is
occurring. When a person adjusts the contrast on a TV on two different
occasions, the direction of the action might be exactly opposite from one
time to the next, depending on whether the contrast starts out too low or
too high -- as perceived and evaluated relative to some reference amount
of contrast. Centering a sight on a target could entail moving the gun
left, right, up, down, or any combination of those -- or leaving it
pointed exactly as it is.
Here's a nice one: if you see a person pressing a push-button that toggles
a light on and off, but can't see the light, would you say he's turning
the light on, or turning it off? Is there any way to tell which behavior
he is doing, just by watching what his finger is doing?
Um. Let's go back to behavior vs action. I can see his behavior of
pressing the push-button. Whether his goal is to turn off or turn on the
light, I don't know (given another switch in the same circuit I could
probably find out). If I could see the light, I could say his action was
turning on (or turning off) the light. But, I'd have to disturb that to
make certain. Maybe he's just playing with the switch.
And another that I just noticed: in Eudora you can press the INS key to
toggle between overwriting and inserting characters. But there is nothing
to indicate which state is in effect, so the only way you can tell whether
you just turned the insert state on or turned it off is to start typing.
You can't even identify your own behavior by looking at your own
Aaarrrggghhhh! Now we have "behavior" vs "movements." Yuck! I think I'll
go soak my head for a while.