What Is the Definition of Covert Behavior?

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Covert behavior is behavior that is not seen or observed, according to the National Institutes of Health. Covert behaviors are very important to psychologists since these behaviors must be changed for treatment to be successful.

Unseen or covert behaviors include thoughts and emotions. These are often the hardest behaviors to study and treat since the psychologist cannot read the mind of the patient. These behaviors are labeled as positive and negative. Negative covert behavior includes negative thoughts and emotions, while positive covert behavior includes positive thoughts and emotions.

Though these behaviors are covert, it is still possible for observation of the patient to suggest either positive or negative thoughts and feelings. Subtle hints, such as slouched shoulders, looking down while walking, and the patient seeming sad or happy can indicate the type of covert behavior within his or her mind.