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Chapter I Definition and Characteristics of Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA 417 August 27, 2008. Applied Behavior Analysis. Is a science Goal of understanding and improving human behavior

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applied behavior analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Is a science
  • Goal of understanding and improving human behavior
  • Defined as: the science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for behavior change. Cooper, et al. (2007)
applied behavior analysis methods focus goals
Applied Behavior Analysis: Methods, Focus, Goals
  • Objectively defined behaviors
  • Address behaviors of social significance
applied behavior analysis methods focus goals1
Applied Behavior Analysis: Methods, Focus, Goals
  • ABA: scientific approach
  • Discover environmental variables that influence socially significant behavior
  • Technology of behavior change
  • “Systematic approach for seeking and organizing knowledge about the natural world.” Cooper et. al. (2007)
goal of the science of applied behavior analysis
Goal of the Science of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Understanding of socially important behaviors.
  • Collection of facts about observed events
  • Can be quantified
  • Classified
  • Evaluated related to other known facts
  • Suggests hypotheses/questions for additional research
  • Repeated observations reveal that the presence of one event will likely predict the presence of another event.
  • Systematic covariation is termed a correlation
  • Correlation predicts the relative probability of an event based on the presence of another event
  • No variables are manipulated in correlational studies so you can not determine if observed relationships are responsible for changes in other variables.
  • Results suggest possible causal relationships.
  • These results can be explored in later studies.
  • Functional relations: provide scientific information that is most useful to changing behavior.
  • Functional relation: Well controlled experiment reveals that a change in the dependent variable can be produced by manipulations of the independent variable.
  • The change in the dependent variable is unlikely to be the result of a confounding variable.
attitudes of science
Attitudes of Science
  • Determinism
  • Empiricism
  • Experimentation
  • Replication
  • Parsimony
  • Philosophic Doubt
  • Science presumes determinism
  • The presumption that events studied are lawful and occur as the result of other events.
  • Empiricism: objective observation independent of individual prejudices/private opinions, subjective beliefs
  • In ABA Empiricism guides the Behavior Analyst to operationally define the behavior of interest, to systematically observe occurrence and to reliably measure occurrence or non occurrence of the behavior of interest.
  • Determines if events observed to covary in a close sequence are functionally related.
  • An experiment compares the dependent variable under two or more different conditions (independent variable), varying only one variable at a time.
  • Replication: The repeating of experiments or repeating of independent variable conditions within an experiment.
  • A primary method for determining reliability and usefulness of findings.
  • Simple, logical explanations are ruled out before more complex or abstract explanations are considered.
  • Choose the simplest explanation/the one that requires the fewest assumptions.
philosophic doubt
Philosophic Doubt
  • Scientists continue to question what is regarded as fact.
  • Maintain skepticism
  • Practitioners should be skeptical
  • Extraordinary claims are cause for philosophic doubt
  • The philosophy of the science of behavior.
stimulus response behaviorism watson
Stimulus-Response Behaviorism: Watson
  • John B. Watson: subject matter for psychology should be observable behavior.
  • Study of behavior as a natural science should be of environmental stimuli and the responses they evoke.
  • S-R psychology
  • Watson made a case for the study of behavior to be a natural science.
experimental analysis of behavior
Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Began in 1938 with publication of The Behavior of Organisms by B. F. Skinner.
  • Respondent behavior: reflexive behavior/elicited by stimuli that immediately precede the behavior
  • Found that the S-R paradigm couldn’t explain much of behavior
experimental analysis of behavior1
Experimental Analysis of Behavior
  • Rather than reflexive, much behavior appeared voluntary
  • Described operant behavior
  • Described the three term contingency
  • S-R-S
  • Manipulated stimuli that preceded and followed behavior systematically and generated many of the principles of behavior.
  • Many theories of psychology study behavior that is assumed to be mental or an inner dimension, different from the behavioral dimension.
  • Mentalism uses hypothetical constructs to refer to possibly existing but unobserved processes.
  • Mentalism is key to much of psychological theory and western thought.
structuralism and methodological behaviorism
Structuralism and Methodological Behaviorism
  • Reject events not defined by objective assessment
  • Structuralists describe behavior only
  • Methodological behaviorists do not consider inner variables
  • Methodological behaviors acknowledge mental events but only are concerned with public events
radical behaviorism skinner
Radical Behaviorism: Skinner
  • Seeks to understand all human behavior, not just that which is observed, but that which is under the skin.
  • Skinner described these events as private events.
  • Skinner said private events are behavior, it is distinguished from other behavior only that it takes place within the skin so is inaccessible, private behavior is a function of the same kinds of variables as public behavior.
radical behaviorism
Radical Behaviorism
  • Observe: Defined by Skinner as come into contact/which can be done with private events.
  • Does not describe hypothetical constructs but describes behavior that can be observed.
  • Responses to private stimuli are responsive to the laws of behavior.
applied behavior analysis1
Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Study in 1949 with young man with profound multiple disabilities was one of the first published studies of human application of operant behavior
  • 1950-1960’s EAB principles replicated with human subjects
  • Early researchers established that the principles of behavior are applicable to humans
applied behavior analysis2
Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Roots in paper by Ayllon and Michael “The Psychiatric Nurse as a Behavioral Engineer”
  • Pioneering applications of ABA in education in the 1960’s and 1970’s included contingent teacher praise and attention, token reinforcement systems, curriculum design, programmed instruction
  • University programs in ABA began in 1970’s
  • 1968 JABA and Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis
defining characteristics of aba
Defining Characteristics of ABA
  • Applied
  • Behavioral
  • Analytic
  • Technological
  • Conceptually Systematic
  • Effective
  • Generality
  • Select behaviors to change that are socially significant/enhance and improve the persons life
  • Examples: social skills, language, academic skills, daily living, self care, recreation and leisure behaviors
  • Behavior: in need of improvement
  • Behavior: must be measurable, precise and reliable measurement is critical in applied research
  • When behavior is observed to change, must ask whose behavior has changed/must assess the reliability of the measures.
  • Demonstrate a functional relation between the manipulated variables and the target behavior.
  • The experimenter can control the occurrence or non-occurrence of the behavior.
  • ABA demonstrates control to the greatest extent possible.
  • Operant procedures are described so they can be replicated.
  • Procedures are not valuable unless they can be replicated.
  • Check for technological soundness
conceptually systematic
Conceptually Systematic
  • Procedures for changing behavior need to be related to the basic principles.
  • Conceptual systems are needed so that there is an integrated discipline.
  • The behavior under study must be improved to clinical or social significance.
  • Lasts over time
  • Appears in environments where it was not taught
  • Spreads to other behaviors not directly addressed
  • Continues after treatment is withdrawn
additional characteristics
Additional Characteristics
  • Accountable
  • Public
  • Doable
  • Empowering
  • Optimistic
  • Commitment to being effective
  • Detect successes and failures through direct and continuous measurement and make changes based on data.
  • Explicit and straight forward
  • No hidden treatments and no magic
  • Parents, teachers, coaches, supervisors and participants can implement procedures themselves.
  • Provides real tools for changing behavior
  • Data raises confidence
  • Environmental view
  • Direct and continuous measures show small changes
  • More often there are positive outcomes, the more optimistic the practitioner
some still current dimensions of applied behavior analysis
Some still current dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Changes in numbers of practitioners from more EAB to ABA
  • Changes in data from continuous measures of discrete behaviors to interval measures
  • What social problems are now of concern
  • Stimulus control in problem displays
  • Counter control
  • Invitations of non-behavioral approaches to behavior analysts
  • Standard of measurement: direct observation and recording
  • Codes/training of observers
  • Problems of Self-reports and Participant observer
behavioral assessment
Behavioral Assessment
  • Use of IQ tests and achievement tests
  • Address precursors to behaviors: accidents and delinquency
  • These have led to behavioral assessments
  • Need for direct observation studies to evaluate behavioral assessments
analytic and conceptual
Analytic and Conceptual
  • Behavior change now should be both analytic and conceptual
  • It is not ok to change behavior and clearly demonstrate the change without how to make the change in a way that makes sense conceptually
  • Behavior Analysts are not just studying and managing behavior but also managed by behavior
  • Manage and program around contextual controls
  • Extending designs to evaluate behavior control in different contexts: multielement design
  • Design questions to fit known designs vs design to answer the question
  • Generally journals and text described procedures adequately
  • Criticism of incidental teaching and praise descriptions in literature and need to empirically validate procedures used
  • Applications of procedures and their recording are recorded like subject behaviors/how the field addresses or discusses the presentation or lack of presentation of such information
  • Should program procedures disseminated be followed exactly or should they be revised
capable of appropriate generalized outcomes
Capable of Appropriate Generalized Outcomes
  • The field has demonstrated the ability to produce generalized outcomes
  • Need for development of a technology for generalization
  • System for matching generalization programming to the target
  • Reference to the applied discussion and counter control
  • Study of behavior change: a) measure of changed target behavior b) measure of problems displays and explanations that have decreased
  • Absence of the second measure may reflect a weakness in ABA
  • The field needs to measure effectiveness of interventions beyond the intervention
  • Measures of social validity
  • Measure consumer goals before program development so that programs are socially valid