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B-A-B Design

A three phase experimental design that begins with the treatment condition. After steady state responding has been obtained during the initial treatment phase (B), the treatment variable is withdrawn (A) to see whether responding changes in the absence of the independent variable. The treatment variable is then reintroduced (B) in an attempt to recapture the level of responding obtained during the first treatment phase.


Backup Reinforcers

Tangible objects, activities, or privileges that serve as reinforcers and that can be purchased with tokens.


Backward Chaining

A teaching procedure in which a trainer completes all but the last behavior in a chain, which is performed by the learner, who then receives reinforcement for completing the chain. When the learner shows competence in performing the final step in the chain, the trainer performs all but the last two behaviors in the chain, the learner emits the final two steps to complete the chain, and reinforcement is delivered. This sequence is continued until the learner completes the entire chain independently.


Backward chaining with leaps ahead

A backward chaining procedure in which some steps in the task analysis are skipped; used to increase the efficiency of teaching long behavior chains when there are evidence that the skipped steps are in the learner's repertoire.


Bar Graph

A simple and versatile graphic format for summarizing behavior data; shares most of the line graph's features except that it does not have distinct data points representing successive response measures through time. Also called a histogram.



A condition of an experiment in which the independent variable is not present; data obtained during baseline are the basis for determining the effects of the independent variable; a control condition that does not necessarily mean the absence of instruction or treatment, only the absence of a specific independent variable of experimental interest.


Baseline logic

A term sometimes used to refer to the experimental reasoning inherent in single-subject experimental designs; entails three elements: prediction, verification, and replication.



The activity of living organisms; human behavior includes everything that people do. A technical definition: "that portion of an organism's interaction with it's environment that is characterized by detectable displacement in space through time of some part of the organism and that results in a measurable change in at least one aspect of the environment.


Behavior-Altering Effect

An alteration in the current frequency of behavior that has been reinforced by the stimulus that is altered in effectiveness by the same motivating operation. For example, the frequency of behavior that has been reinforced with food is increased or decreased by food deprivation or food ingestion.


Behavior Chain

A sequence of responses in which each response produces a stimulus change that functions as conditioned reinforcement for that response and as a discriminitive stimulus for the next response in the chain; reinforcement for the last response in a chain maintains the reinforcing effectiveness of the stimulus changes produced by all previous responses in the chain.


Behavior chain interruption strategy

An intervention that relies on the participant's skill in performing the critical elements of a chain independently; the chain is interrupted occasionally so that another behavior can be emitted.


Behavior chain with a limited hold

A contingency that specifies a time interval by which a behavior chain must be completed for reinforcement to be delivered.


Behavior change tactic

A technologically consistent method for changing behavior derived from one or more principles of behavior (e.g. differential reinforcement of other behavior, response cost); possesses sufficient generality across subjects, settings, and/or behaviors to warrant it;s codification and dissemination.


Behavior Trap

An interrelated community of contingencies of reinforcement that can be especially powerful, producing substantial and long-lasting behavior changes. Effective behavior traps share four essential features: (a) they are "baited" with virtually irresistible reinforcers that "lure" the student to the trap; (b) only a low-effort response already in the student's repertoire is necessary to enter the trap (c) once inside the trap, interrelated contingencies of reinforcement motivate the student to acquire, extend, and maintain targeted academic and/or social skills; and (d) they can remain effective for a long time because students shows few, in any, satiation.


Behavioral Assessment

A form of assessment that involves a full range of inquiry methods (observation, interview, testing, and the systematic manipulation of antecedent or consequent controlling variables. Behavioral assessment is designed to discover resources, assets, significant others, competing contingencies, maintenance and generality factors, and possible reinforcer and/or punishers that surround the potential target behavior.


Behavioral Contrast

The phenomenon in which a change in once component of a multiple schedule that increases or decreases the rate of responding on that component is accompanied by a change in the response rate in the opposite direction on the other, unaltered component of the schedule.


Behavioral Cusp

A behavior that has sudden and dramatic consequences that extend well beyond the idiosyncratic change itself because it exposes the person to new environments, reinforcers, contingencies, responses, and stimulus controls.


Behavioral Momentum

A metaphor to describe a rate of responding and its resistance to change following an alteration in reinforcement conditions. The momentum metaphor has also been used to describe the effects produced by the high-probability (high-p) request sequence.



The philosophy of a science of behavior; there are various forms of behaviorism (methodological, behaviorism, radical behaviorism).



The extent to which the researcher convinces herself and others that the data are trustworthy and deserve interpretation. Measures of interobserver agreement (IOA) are the most often used indent of believability in applied behavior analysis.


Bonus response cost

A procedure for implementing response const in which the person is provided a reservoir of reinforcers that are removed in predetermined amounts contingent on the occurrence of the target behavior.