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Emotion emoticons used by a psychologist

About Behavior Analysis

Behavior analysis is the scientific study of behavior. Behavior analysts ask Why does behavior change over time? They seek answers by looking at the biological and environmental factors, although they are primarily interested in the role of environment in behavior change. Many behavior analysts do either basic or applied research. Others specialize in applying behavior change principles to enhancing quality of life.

For more than 70 years, the question of what causes behavior to change over time has fascinated behavior scientists. It is through this science that behavior analysts have discovered principles that explain behavior much in the same way that laws of gravity explain physical occurrences. They seek to explain why we behave the way we do and how that behavior can be changed.


Most recently, this groundbreaking science has earned greater recognition with mainstream audiences for its success in treating autism. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has not only become recognized as the treatment of choice for behavior problems associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but also Down’s Syndrome, attention deficit disorder (ADD), brain injury and other disorders as well. Other applications where behavior analysis can be applied include social responsibility, organization behavior management, addiction/self-help, parenting/family life, community interventions and animal training. Behavior analysis has also been effective in teaching methods that foster classroom learning.


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Why is the field called behavior analysis?

The term “behavior analysis” was coined by B. F. Skinner, generally considered the founder of behavior analysis. The term was meant to distinguish the field as one that focuses on behavior as a subject in its own right, rather than as an index or manifestation of something happening at some other level (in the mind, brain, psyche, etc.).


Skinner believed that thinking and feeling were covert forms of behavior. “Thoughts and feelings do not explain behavior,” he wrote, “they are more behavior to be explained.”


Skinner thought that the concept of mind belonged to the philosophers, and that science should focus on behavior. These ideas form the core of behavior analysis today.


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