Section 1: Foundational Knowledge: Easy Flashcards Preview

BCBA Exam Prep > Section 1: Foundational Knowledge: Easy > Flashcards

Flashcards in Section 1: Foundational Knowledge: Easy Deck (42):

Applied Behavior Analysis 

A scientific approach for discovering environmental variables that reliably influcence socially significant behaviors & for developing a technology of behavior change that is practical and applicaple. 

  • ABA is an evidence bassed APPLIED science 





A systematic approach for seeking and organizing knowledge about the natural world. 

  • Science is based on determinism


Purpose of Science

To acheive a thorough understanding of the phenomena under study. 

  • In ABA, the phenomena under study are socially important behaviors 


3 Levels of Scientific Understanding 


Dana Priya Can

  1. Description 
  2. Prediction (Correlation; Covariation) 
  3. Control (Causation) 



(one of the 3 Levels of Scientific Understanding)

Systematic observations that can be quanified and classfield. Not causal explanations. 



(Correlation; Covariation) 

(one of the 3 Levels of Scientific Understanding)

Two events may regularly occur at the same time. This does not necessarily mean one causes the other. 




(one of 3 Levels of Scientific Understanding)

  • Functional relation
  • The highest level of scientific understanding 
  • Experimental demonstration that manipulating the independent variable results in a change in the dependent variable. 


6 Attitudes of Science/Philosophical Assumptions of Behavior


  1. Determinism 
  2. Empiricism 
  3. Experimentation (Experimental Analysis) 
  4. Replication 
  5. Parsimony 
  6. Philosophical Doubt 



(one of 6 Attitudes of Science)

  • The universe is a lawful and orderly place in which all phenomena occur as the result of other events--not at random. 
  • Cause and effect
  • Lawfulness: If/Then Statements 
  • The world is orderly and predictable 




(one of 6 Attitudes of Science) 

  • The practice of objective observation of the phenomena of interest 
  • Experimental, data-based scientific approach, drawing upon observation and experience
  • Requires objective quantification and detailed description of events 




(Experimental Analysis)

(one of 6 Attitudes of Science)

  • Requires manipulating variables to see the effects on the dependent variable 
  • An assesment for causation 
  • Requires all variables to be controlled except for the dependent variable 



(one of 6 Attitudes of Science)

  • Used to determine the RELIABILITY and usefulness of findings 
  • How scientists discover their mistakes, making science a self-correcting enterprise 



(one of 6 Attitudes of Science)

  • The simplest theory 
  • All simple and logical explanations must be ruled out before considering more complex explanations
  • Helps scientists fit findings within the field's existing knowledge base 


Philosophical Doubt

(one of 6 Attitudes of Science)

  • Having healthy skepticism and a critical eye about the results of studies and your work with clients 


7 Dimensions of ABA

Defined by Baer, Wolf, and Risley in 1st Edition of JABA in 1968


  1. Behavioral
    • Observable events 
    • Must be measurable and in need of improvement 
  2. Applied
    • ABA improves socially signficant behaviors, the overall life of the client, and signficant others
  3. Technological 
    • defines procedures clearly and in detail so that they are REPLICABLE
  4. Conceptually Systematic 
    • All procedures used should be tied to the basic principles of behavior analysis from which they were derived 
  5. Analytical (Functional Relation; Experimentation; Control; Causation) 
    • ​​A FUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP IS DEMONSTRATED between the manipulated events and a reliable change in some measurable dimension of the targeted behavior
    • Believability 
  6. Generality (Generalization) 
    • ​​Extends behavior change across, time, settings, or other behaviors 
  7. Effective 
    • Improves behavior in a practical manner, not simply making a change that is statistically significant 



(Spiritual; Psychic; Subjective; Feelings; Attitudes; Processing)

  • an approach to explaining behavior that assumes an inner dimension exists and causes behavior 
  • traditional psychology 


Dominated by:

  1. Hypothetical Constructs (Imaginary Constructs) 
  2. Explanatory Fictions
  3. Circular Reasoning 


Hypothetical Constructs 

(Imaginary Constructs) 

  • Presumed but unobserved entities such as free will, readiness, unobservable storage and retrieval mechanisms for memory, information processing 


Explanatory Fictions

  • Ficticious variables that are another name for the observed behavior and contribute nothing to the understanding the variables that maintain the behavior 
  • Associated words: knows, wants, figures out 


Circular Reasoning 

The cause and effect are both inferred from the same information (ex: he cried because he felt sad)



  • The philosphy of the science of behavior 
  • emerged in the early 1900s 
  • Enviornmental (not mentalistic) explanation of behavior 


4 Branches of Behavior Analysis 


  1. Conceptual Analysis of Behavior (Behaviorism)
  2. ABA
  3. Behavior Service Delivery- refers to people in various fields implementing ABA
  4. Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB) 


History of Behaviorism 

  • 1850's - early 1900s: Pavlov and Classical Conditioning
  • 1900's: Mentalism 
  • 1913: Watson and Methodological Behaviorism (Stimulus-Response Behaviorism; S-R Psychology; Watsonian Behaviorism) 
  • 1938 - 1990's: Skinner and Radical Behaviorism 


Methodological Behaviorism 

(Stimulus-Response Behaviorism; S-R Psychology; Watsonian Behaviorism) 

  • John Watson 
  • only looks at publicly observable events and is NOT concerned with private events 
  • The study of behavior through direct observation of the relationship between enviornmental stimuli (S) and the responses (R) they bring about 
  • 1920 Watson conducted the Little Albert Experiment pairing a white rat with a loud noise 


Radical Behaviorism 

  • B.F. Skinner in 1938 
  • It's called RADICAL because it included private events into the understanding of behavior 
  • Influenced by:
    1. Darwinian Selectionism (Selection by Consequences) 
    2. Pragmatism 


Darwinian Selectionism 

(Selection by Consequences) 

  • influenced radical behaviorism 
  • discusses a 3 term contingency with regard to species and survival 
  • evolution as a result of selection with respect to FUNCTION
  • Selection by consequences operates during the lfietime of the individual (ONTOGENY) and is similar to natural selection in the evolutionary history of a species (PHYLOGENY
  • Operant selection by consequences requires variation in behavior 
  • Behaviors that result in the best outcomes are selected and survive leading to more adaptive repertoires 



  • influenced radical behaviorism 
  • A probabilistic AB-because of C Philosopy 
    • the relation between the setting-A and the behavior-B is because of the consequence-C
  • focuses on "How do things come to be as they are and how can things be changed?" 
  • the meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences 


2 Primary Types of Behavior 


Respondent Behavior 

(Reflex; Relexive Relations; Unconditioned Stimulus-Uncondictioned Response [US-UR] 

  • behavior that is ELICITED by antecedent stimuli 
  • unlearned 
  • REFLEX- the unconditioned stimulus elicits an unconditioned response that is genetic 
  • product of natural evolution because it has survival value for the species 
  • Habituation- When the eliciting stimulus is presented repeatedly over a short time, the strength of the respondent behavior diminishes 
    • Ex: A bright light shone in the eyes repeatedly makes pupil contraction lessen 
    • Ex: The startle response to a loud noise diminishes with repeated presentations 
  • Respondent behavior is due to PHYLOGENIC history



  • In RESPONDENT CONDITIONING, when the eliciting stimulus is presented repeatedly over a short time, the strength of the respondent behavior diminishes 
    • Ex: A bright light shone in the eyes repeatedly makes pupil contraction lessen 
    • Ex: The startle response to a loud noise diminishes with repeated presentations 



  • behavior that is inheritied gentically 
  • RESPONDENT behavior is due to phylogenic history 


Respondent Conditioning 

(Classical Conditioning; Pavlovian Conditioning; S-S [Stimulus Stimulus] Pairing; Conditioned Stimulus-Conditioned Response [CS-CR])

  • Ivan Pavlov 
  • When new stimuli acquire the ability to elicit respondents 


Operant Behavior 

(SRS [Stimulus Response Stimulus] Model; 3 Term Contingency; ABC)

  • Any behavior whose probability of occurence is determined by its history of consequences 
  • operants are defined in terms of their relationship to controlling variables--function (NOT topography) 
  • encompasses reinforcement and punishment 
  • can be subject to ADAPTATION- Reductions in responding evoked by an antecedent stimulus over repeated or prolonged presentations 
  • Operant behavior is due to ONTOGENIC history 



Reductions in responding evoked by an antecedent stimulus over repeated or prolonged presentations (in operant conditioning) 

Ex: No longer laughing at a joke after you've heard it for the 3rd time 

Ex: No longer reacting to observer after they've been there for a while 



O is for Operant and Ontogenic

Learning that results from an organism's interaction with their environment 


Operant Contingency 

(Behavioral Contingency; Contingency; 3 Term Contingency; ABC) 

  • The occasion for a response (SD), the response, and the outcome of the response 
  • The dependency of a particular consequence on the occurrence of  ehavior 


Primary Unit of Analysis in ABA

3 Term Contingency (A-B-C) 



(Temporal Contiguity) 

  • When two stimuli occur close together in time, resulting in an association of those two stimuli 
  • Contiguity in Respondent Conditioning:
    • affects the pairing of the CS and US
  • Contiguity in Operant Conditioning
    • affects the pairing of the behavior and consequence 
    • Ex: Superstitious Behavior 


Superstitious Behavior 

When the temporal contiguity between a specific response and reinforcer or punisher creates a contingency that does not exist (e.g. hearing break a leg and then doing well in a performance) 


Respondent-Operant Interactions 

An experience can often include both respondent and operant conditioning that occur together at the same time. 


Ex: Heating food in the microwave 

Respondent Conditioning: The sound of the microwave beeping is the NS and is paired with your favorite food (US) which results in salivation (UR). This results in the microwave beeping becoming the CS for salivation (CR). 

Operant Conditioning: The microwave beeping is the SD that evokes the behavior of oging to get the food from the microwave. Eating the food is the reinforcer. When the microwave beep (SD) is presented again in the future, the resposne is more likely to occur


Dead Man's Test

  • If a dead man can do it, it's not behavior. If a dead man can't do it, it is behavior. 


3 Principles of Behavior 


Scientifically derived rules of nature that describe the predictable relation between a biological organism's responses and objects and events that can influence behavior. 


All ABA strategies are derived from these 3 principles: 

  1. Punishment
  2. Extinction 
  3. Reinforcement 



  • an item of behavior that is initially spontaneous, rather than a response to a prior stimulus, but whose consequences may reinforce or inhibit recurrence of that behavior 
  • Response-Consequence relationship. Similar behaviors that are strengthened or weakened collectively as a result of operant conditioning