Why do people act the way they do? We often ask ourselves this
question. The banner also gives us a simple but straightforward
answer: because consequences support this behavior!
In a business environment many behaviors occur daily. Some of those
behaviors affect business directly (as well as positive as negative)
while others are socially needed. By understanding what drives human
behavior, we can create the conditions necessary to encourage desired
behavior. The ABC-model is an instrument which helps you understand
the forces that drives human behavior and applies these principles to
instruments like a reward system, an organizational change, projects
and so on.
You can gain perspectives on why people act as they do and discover
the patterns of consequences and antecedents that are associated with
Next a brief explanation how the ABC works. At this moment it is good
to know that ABC stands for:
Antecedents, Behavior and Consequences.
Antecedents prompt you to act
An antecedent (sometimes referred to as an activator) is something
that occurs before a certain behavior. This can be anything from a
directive to the effect of the working environment. Antecedents appear
both in everyday life and at the workplace. Even the internet itself
operates on the function of antecedents. The fact that you are here on
this homepage is already a consequence of an antecedent.
Just click this button. Everything that prompts you to act a certain
way (like asking you to click the button), could be called an
antecedent. Now you understand that the Internet can be seen as one
big function of the ABC-model. A funny looking button inspires you to
push it, an interesting item on a homepage make you click the link, a
good looking homepage prompts you to give it the attention it
deserves. An antecedent is an important part of the ABC-model to get
behavior started; it prompts you to take action.
In the world of business these would include policies, goals,
directives, announcements, training programs, procedures, vision
statements, and so forth. All of these ‘set the stage’ for a
work-behavior or performance to take place, but they do not guarantee
that it will occur. Managers are also frequent users of antecedents,
telling people what to do, figuring out what to tell them to do, or
figuring out what to do because people didn’t do what they told them
to do. They even spend approximately 80% of their time using the A of
the ABC, neglecting the B and the C (Daniels 1989).
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