Introduction to Psychology/Behavior Analysis

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Behavior analysis is the science of behavior, consisting of basic research and an applied technologies. The focus is on observable, measurable behavior and the role of the environment in establishing and maintaining behaviors.

Behavior Analysis/Table of Contents

Brief History

The foundations for Behavior Analysis are found in the experimental psychologies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially the work of Ivan Pavlov ("The Conditioned Reflex") and Edward Thorndike. Methods of experimental psychology established by these researchers for approaching the subject of behavior were based on these researchers.

Assumptions of Behavior Analysis

1. Behavior is not random, but is rather governed by lawful principles.
2. Principles of behavior apply to all species.

Research in Behavior Analysis

1. Single subject design versus statistical analysis of group differences.
2. Generalization across species, settings, and subjects.

Examples of Applied Behavior Analysis

1. By observing and interviewing people who interact with an individual with disabilities, it is possible to hypothesize that the individual is hurting himself in order to get other people's attention. Following this assessment and hypothesis, the individual is taught a simple picture communication system which is easier to use than words for him. By then providing attention to the individual when he points to the appropriate picture card that communicates need for attention, the self-injury behavior stops.

2. A student creates disruption and is sent out of the classroom frequently. A behavior analysis indicates he is probably acting disruptively in order to be sent out of the room. Instead of sending him out of the room, he is asked to continue working if he wants to get a positive consequence later (e.g., get to go to recess). Now, he would rather work and get recess than have to stay in the class during recess. The disruptive behavior no longer served the function of allowing escape and the required behavior ended up serving the function more effectively.