S.O.R.C. and Functional Behavioral Analysis / Assessment (FBA)
The S-O-R-C scheme
is one of the cornerstones of behavioural therapy:
S (stimulus) represents situations that precede a certain experience.
O (organism) includes everything that happens within the human system: his thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and reactions.
R (response) is the observable behavior.
C (consequence) is the short and long term consequences, positive, neutral and negative.
If we want to change behaviour it is a practical way to question a current behaviour according to this schedule.
SORC is important as a base for behavioral assessment programs. The essence is:
The learning theoretical perspective uses the concepts of stimulus (S – cause in the environment), response (R – reaction of the client) and consequences (C – consequences for the client). The consequences are also a new stimulus. The basic starting point is: If the reaction produces profits, the client will repeat his reaction. If there is no stimulus or no profit, or even a negative result, then the client will stop this behavior.
In addition to the concepts of S, R, C, there is a fourth concept, which is mainly used in the cognitive approach: The O of organism, which is placed after the S: S.O.R.C. These are personal factors such as intelligence, illness, attitudes, core beliefs, expectations, motivation and fatigue.
One of a mentioned program with its origin in S.O.R.C. is
Functional Behavioural Analysis / Assessment
The term Functional analysis comes from computer science. An example of what Functional Analysis is: “Before you can write a computer program, you must have an idea what purpose the program should serve and how it should function. Therefore, a functional analysis must be made. The functional analysis describes all the functions we want to have in the program.”
Transformed to the psychology, pedagogy, the behaviour and coaching of students, the FA has the following meaning:
“Functional Behavioral Analysis emphasizes careful examination of the causes, and the impact on the environment of a given response repertoire.” (Meichenbaum, 1981, p. 195).”
In the FBA, an accurate analysis is made of specific behaviour in a specific context, and all that is the result of that behaviour and influenced by it. This puts behaviour into a chain of events and is therefore seen as functional in this chain: there is, in fact, a logical connection between behavior and context. In a cognitive function analysis, the self-perceptions and cognitive schedules that someone still uses come along. Therefore it is not so easy to analyse
Some unambiguity is necessary for adequate analysis. In any case, it is sensible to analyse problem behaviour in time and place.
This is just one part of the behavioural problem consisting of the functional analysis and the holistic theory. In this tailored hypotheses the functional analysis covers the micro level. The behavioural problems selected for treatment are examined. The crucial antecedents and actuators are analysed again in the context in which the behavior takes place. The holistic theory concerns the analysis on a higher level. It describes the relationship between the various problem areas. This is rather a macro level. The function analysis and the holistic theory complete each other well. But there’s more: both are in constant communication back and forth. Thus function analysis is a vital source of information in preparing the holistic theory.
Functional assessment of behaviour provides hypotheses about the relationships between specific environmental events and behaviour. Decades of research has established that both desirable and undesirable behaviours are learned through interactions with the social and physical environment. FBA is used to identify the type and source of reinforcement for challenging behaviours as the basis for intervention efforts designed to decrease the occurrence of these behaviours.
Functions of behaviour
The function of a behaviour can be thought of as the purpose a behavior serves for a person. Function is identified in an FBA by identifying the type and source if reinforcement for the behaviour of interest. Those reinforcers might be positive or negative social reinforcers provided by someone who interacts with the person, or automatic reinforcers produced directly by the behaviour itself.
Positive Reinforcement – social positive reinforcement (attention), tangible reinforcement, and automatic positive reinforcement.
Negative Reinforcement – social negative reinforcement (escape), automatic negative reinforcement.
Function versus topography
Behaviours may look different but can serve the same function and likewise behaviour that looks the same may serve multiple functions. What the behaviour looks like often reveals little useful information about the conditions that account for it. However, identifying the conditions that account for a behaviour, suggests what conditions need to be altered to change the behaviour. Therefore, assessment of function of a behaviour can yield useful information with respect to intervention strategies that are likely to be effective.
FBA methods can be classified into three types:
- Functional (experimental) Analysis
- Descriptive Assessment
- Indirect Assessment
Functional (experimental) analysis
A functional analysis is one in which antecedents and consequences are manipulated to indicate their separate effects on the behaviour of interest. This type of arrangement is often called analog because they are not conducted in a naturally occurring context. However, research is indicating that functional analysis done in a natural environment will yield similar or better results
A functional analysis normally has four conditions (three test conditions and one control):
- Contingent attention
- Contingent escape
- Control condition
Advantages – it has the ability to yield a clear demonstration of the variable(s)that relate to the occurrence of a problem behaviour. Serves as the standard of scientific evidence by which other assessment alternative are evaluated, and represents the method most often used in research on the assessment and treatment of problem behaviour.
Limitations – assessment process may temporarily strengthen or increase the undesirable behaviour to unacceptable levels or result in the behaviour acquiring new functions. Some behaviours may not be amenable to functional analysis (e.g. those that, albeit serious, occur infrequently). Functional analysis conducted in contrived settings may not detect the variable that accounts for the occurrence in the natural environment.
This method uses structured interviews, checklists, rating scales, or questionnaires to obtain information from persons who are familiar with the person exhibiting the behavior to identify possible conditions or events in the natural environment that correlate with the problem behaviour. They are called “indirect” because they do not involve direct observation of the behaviour, but rather solicit information based on others’ recollections of the behaviour.
Advantages – some can provide a useful source of information in guiding subsequent, more objective assessments, and contribute to the development of hypotheses about variable that might occasion or maintain the behaviours of concern.
Limitations – informants may not have accurate and unbiased recall of behaviour and the conditions under which it occurred.
As with Functional Analysis, descriptive functional behaviour assessment utilizes direct observation of behaviour; unlike functional analysis, however, observations are made under naturally occurring conditions. Therefore, descriptive assessments involve observation of the problem behaviour in relation to events that are not arranged in a systematic manner.
There are three variations of descriptive assessment:
- ABC (antecedent-behaviour-consequence) continuous recording – observer records occurrences of targeted behaviour and seelected environmental events in the natural routine.
- ABC narrative recording – data are collected only when behaviors of interest are observes, and the recording encompasses any events that immediately precede and follow the target behaviour.
- Scatterplots -a procedure for recording the extent to which a target behaviour occurs more often at particular times than others.
Conducting an FBA
Provided the strengths and limitations of the different FBA procedures, FBA can best be viewed as a four-step process:
- The gathering of information via indirect and descriptive assessment.
- Interpretation of information from indirect and descriptive assessment and formulation of a hypothesis about the purpose of problem behaviour.
- Testing of a hypothesis using a functional analysis.
- Developing intervention options based on the function of problem behaviour.
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Please use this video to get a better idea of FBA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qaz5kcS2oD4
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