What Is Behavior Analysis?
Behavior analysis is a natural science that seeks to understand the behavior of individuals.
That is, behavior analysts study how biological, pharmacological, and experiential factors influence the behavior of humans and nonhuman animals. Recognizing that behavior is something that individuals do, behavior analysts place special emphasis on studying factors that reliably influence the behavior of individuals, an emphasis that works well when the goal is to acquire adaptive behavior or ameliorate problem behavior. The science of behavior analysis has made discoveries that have proven useful in addressing socially important behavior such as drug taking, healthy eating, workplace safety, education, and the treatment of pervasive developmental disabilities (e.g., autism).
For further information about behavior analysis, click on the questions below.
- What is a natural science of behavior?
Biology and physics are two examples of a natural science. When explaining biological and physical phenomena (e.g., the evolution of species or the tensile strength of a metal bar) these sciences appeal exclusively to natural, physical processes. By the same token, behavior analytic explanations of behavior appeal to natural, physical processes (e.g., environmental events, genetics, neural receptors). They do not appeal to metaphysical phenomena (e.g., free will), and they do not explain one behavior by appealing to another behavior. With respect to the latter, one cannot explain overeating by appealing to gluttony, laziness, or a lack of self-control. The latter provide categorical names into which overeating might be placed with other instances of behavior, but they do not tell us how to effectively treat overeating. Behavior analysts study natural, physical processes that influence behavior because, ultimately, this yields effective ways of changing socially important behavior....Hide
- What is meant by "experiential factors"?
An experiential factor is anything that you experience with your senses. Behavior analysts have focused much of their research toward understanding how humans and other animals learn from the environment around them, that is, how they adapt to their circumstances. These studies have revealed fundamental and important principles of behavior. A thorough knowledge of these principles may be used to positively impact a wide variety of behaviors....Hide
- Why emphasize the behavior of individuals?
Behavior can be influenced by others (e.g., peer-pressure, family norms, cultural influences), but, ultimately, behavior is something that individuals do. Individuals walk, talk, think, interact socially, and sometimes read FAQs on websites. Behavior analysis, as a natural science of behavior, recognizes this fact and studies factors that influence the behavior of individuals. As a result, the principles and techniques discovered by behavior analysts have proven useful in helping individuals improve their own behavior and those of other individuals about whom they care....Hide
- What are these “principles of behavior"?
There are many important principles of behavior that have been discovered by behavior analysts; indeed, there are too many to do justice to here. Understanding the principles of behavior requires extensive study and practical learning. Individuals wishing to systematically study behavior analysis should apply to study at an ABAI accredited academic program....Hide
- How can I find a qualified practicing behavior analyst?
Many states are either licensing or certifying professional behavior analysts, primarily for the treatment of children diagnosed with developmental disabilities and autism. Most of these states require that a practicing behavior analyst be certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). The BACB allows consumers to search for and contact certificants in their area on this website....Hide
- How can I become a member of ABAI?
Details about becoming a member of ABAI may be found here....Hide