Continuing on with, “Why does he do that?”…today’s featured function is attention.
The function of attention exists when what we do results in others interacting with us. It is commonly labelled “attention seeking”. I dislike this term however because the negative connotation leaves people only looking for the “bad” forms of attention seeking behaviours when there are plenty of appropriate and pro-social forms being executed everyday.
This person is engaging in an attention-seeking behaviour. Looks pretty normal to me. She has learned that raising and sticking your arm out towards the road is a reliable means of getting a cab driver’s attention. Her arm raising behaviour is reinforced when the cab comes over.
Here is another attention-seeking behaviour. This seems pretty functional. Haven’t we all been in situations where we needed help and called upon others to give us assistance? We have learned that even saying the word “HELP!” is a reliable form of getting others to come towards us. Once nearby, the person can offer the specific assistance we need. Thank goodness people reinforce our attention-seeking behaviours by responding to our calls for help.
Meanwhile, this young lady had something on her mind that she wanted to share with others. The delivery of her message served the purpose of getting attention. She not only got the attention of parliament that day, but also of the nation. Perhaps her methods were unconventional or they left a bad taste in people’s mouths, but what she did worked at getting Canadians to discuss politics, free speech and the current state of affairs.
I hope you can tell from the examples I’ve highlighted that attention as a reason for behaviour is neither good nor bad. It just is. We need people to respond to us, to share ideas and engage us in meaningful ways. We get that interaction or maintain it by gaining the attention of others.
As family and friends meet over the next several days, there will be plenty of exchanges of attention. Some will be subtle (a warm touch from grandma); others may be obnoxious (your uncle’s impersonations). Most will be reciprocated and the attention continues. We are social beings after all.