Behavior Analysis

Behavior Analysis is a natural science, separated from the social sciences, with identified scientific principles empirically validated through decades of research

  • Early researchers (e.g. Watson, Skinner, Pavlov) identified several basic principles which predict and control the behavior of humans and animals
  • Occurrence of behavior is explained as a product of the environment and changes in behavior are attributed to behavior-environment interactions
  • The environment includes the external environment or space where the organism is as well as the internal environment

Behavior analysis involves:

  • Application of the basic principles and the use of evidence based interventions
  • Focus on measurable and observable behavior
    • Includes operant or learned behavior as well as respondent or unlearned behavior
  • Data collection and data analysis
    • Experimental research designs utilized to analyze data collected
    • Goal is to demonstrate functional relations, demonstrated changes in targeted behaviors explained by the introduction of the intervention

There are two main braches of behavior analysis including the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  

  • Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB)
    • Basic branch which focuses on explaining behavioral principles and phenomena
    • EAB research may be conducted in any setting and with any population, but serves the purpose of advancing the evidence base of behavioral principles in effect
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
    • Focus on changing socially significant behavior and most often applied with humans
    • Uses basic principles of behavior identified in EAB literature to change socially significant behavior
    • Intention to increase prosocial behaviors and decrease undesired behavior as determined by the organisms community

ABA Practitioners are credentialed professionals with extensive training in the application of this natural science.  Practitioners in many states now hold licensure which outlines the standards for the provision of ABA services. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is the credentialing body of the profession and provides the experience standards required to obtain each credential.  The BACB offers the following credentials.

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral (BCBA-D)
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
  • Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysis (BCaBA)
  • Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

Behavior Analysts provide an array of services across a wide variety of settings and client populations. Common services include:

  • Behavioral Assessment
    • Process focused on determining a functional relation between the behavior and environment.  Behavioral assessments may be conducted with a focus on undesired behaviors or on pro-social and/or academic behaviors.
  • Writing Behavior Intervention Plans
    • Development of a protocol outlining how the environment should be altered or a variable could be removed that will decrease the rate of that undesired behavior
    • Follows determination of the function or purpose of that undesired behavior
    • Typically also includes an alternative behavior for increase that will serve the same purpose and replace the undesired behavior
  • Developing educational protocols and curricula
    • Follows skills based assessment and addresses skill deficits present in the client’s repertoire that are contributing to the presence of undesired behavior or are prohibiting that client from access to the community
  • Behaviorally based training and management
    • Use of evidence based training and management techniques focused on changing the interventionists behaviors to positively change client behavior

Behavior Analysts work in a wide variety of settings including schools, private homes, hospitals, clinics, community locations, and anywhere else our clients would benefit from our services.  Although techniques are most often applied to children and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental and acquired disabilities, behavior analysis can be applied to a wide variety of clients.  Burgeoning areas of research and practice include, for example, but are not limited to:

  • Behavior for social change
  • Behavioral medicine
  • Substance abuse
  • Gambling behavior