Section 7: Displaying and Interpreting Behavioral Data Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Section 7: Displaying and Interpreting Behavioral Data Deck (23):


  • medium with which the behavior analyst works 
  • results of measurement 
  • empirical basis for decision making 


Graphs- Purposes and Benefits

  • visual format for displaying data 
  • reveals relations between a seires of measurements and relevant variables 
  • how behavior analysts, organize, store, interpret, and communicate the results of our work 
  • 3 purposes of graphs: CAID
    1. Communicate data
    2. Assess data correctly 
    3. IV and DV (how they are related to each other) 
  • 5 Benefits of Graphs
    1. immediate picture of individual's behavior 
    2. allows you to explore variations in behavior as they are occuring 
    3. acts as a judgmental aid to help you interpret the results of a study or treatment 
    4. acts a conservative method for determining the significance of behavior change -- behavior change that is statistically significant may not look impressive on a graph 
    5. allows for an independent judgment and evaluation of the data 


5 Types of ABA Graphs

LBCSS- Little Boys Sure Can Scream

  1. Line Graphs 
  2. Bar Graphs 
  3. Semilogarithmic Charts 
  4. Cumulative Recrods
  5. Standard Celeration Chart 


Equal Interval Graphs

(Arithmetic Charts; Add-Subtract Charts)

  • graphs in which the distance between any 2 consecutive points on both the x and y axis are always the same 
  • all intervals are the same size 
  • 4 types of equal interval graphs:
    • line graphs 
    • bar graphs 
    • cumulative records 
    • scatter plots 
  • non-equal interval graphs
    • logarithmic and semilogarithmic (standard celeration chart) 
    • look at behavior change through proportionate or relative change 


Line Graphs 

(Frequency Polygons)

  • most common graph in ABA 
  • based on the cartesian plane- 2 dimensional area formed by 2 perpendicular lines that intersect 
  • use a balanced ratio between the hieght and width of the axes 
  • y axis should be shorter than x axis 
  • each point on the line graph shows the level of some quantifiable dimension of the DV in relation to the IV in effect when the data was recorded 
  • comparing data points lets us examine level, trend, and variability 
  • communicate the following relevant quantitative relations
    • data that can be scaled along some dimension, such as time or the order of responses in a sequence 

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7 Parts of a Line Graph 

  1. Horizontal Axis (X Axis; Abscissa) 
    • ​​represents the passage of time and the presence, absence, or value of the IV
    • left to right passing of time in equal intervals 
    • utilize a scale break (//) to represent discontinuities in time 
  2. Vertical Axis (Y Axis; Ordinate)
    • ​​represents the full range of values of the DV (i.e. the quanitfiable aspect of the target behavior) 
    • on an equal interval line graph, the scaling of the y axis is really important to see changes in level, trend, and variability 
    • ORIGIN- intersection of the horizontal and vertical axis 
      • represents the zero value of the DV
  3. Condition Change Lines 
    • the vertical lines drawn upward from the x axis to show poiints in time at which changes in the IV occured
      • solid line = major change
      • dashed line = minor change 
  4. Condition Labels 
  5. Data Points
    • each data point has two meanings
      • a quanitfiable measure of the target behavior recorded during a given obsercation period 
      • the time and/or experimental conditions under which that particular measurement was conducted 
      • coordinates of a data point are displayed as (x,y)
  6. Data Path
    • connects successive data points with a straight line 
    • illustrates level and tred of behavior between two consecutive data points 
    • max of 4 data paths per graph 
  7. Figure Caption 
    • concise statement that provides information to identify the IV and DV 
    • explains symbols 


When NOT to connect points on a line graph 

  • data points fall on either side of a condition change line 
  • time has passed and the behavior was not measured 
  • there was a discontinuity in time of the x axis 
  • data were not collected, lost, etc 
  • it is follow up or post check data 


Line Graph Variations 

  • two or more dimensions of the same behavior 
  • two or more different behaviors 
  • measure the same behavior under different conditions 
  • changing values of the IV
  • same behavior of two or more participants 


Bar Graphs 


  • based on the cartesian plane (as in line graphs) but no distinct data points 
  • use bar graphs when:
    • displaying separate sets of data that ARE NOT related to each other 
    • summarizing performance within a condition or a group of individuals 


Cumulative Records 

  • developed by Skinner to record data in EAB research as a device called the cumulative recorder 
  • cumulative because responses keep getting added during the observation period to the total number of previously recorded responses 
  • the steeper the slope, the higher the rate of responding 
  • the y axis value represents the total number of respnses recorded since the very start of data collection--until the graph hits its upper limit and it resets to zero and begins to rise again 
  • cumulative records generally are used for rate/frequency data 


2 Types of Cumulative Record Response Rates

  • Overall Response Rate 
    • an average rate of response over a given time period such as druing a specific session or phase in a study 
      • calculated by dividing the total # of responses recorded during the period by the # of observation periods indicated on the x axis 
  • Local Response Rate 
    • an average rate of response during periods of time smaller than that for which an overall response rate has been given 
      • same calculation as overall response rate, but only using a small portion of the data on the graph 


When to Use a Cumulative Record 

  • the target behavior can be measured in cumulative units (ex. number of cans recycled) 
  • the target behavior only occurs once per observation period 
  • the cumulative record shows how rapidly or slowly the target responses are repeated 
  • the cumulative record can be used as personal feedback (e.g. self management programs) 
  • the effects of the IV are easier to detect on a cumulative record 
    • reveal more intricate details between behavior and environmental variables 


Semilogarithmic Charts

(Ratio Chart; Multiply-Divide Chart)

  • logarithmic scales look at behavior change through PROPORTIONAL or RELATIVE change 
    • x axis = equal intervals
    • y axis = scaled LOGARITHMICALLY 
  • SEMIlogarithmic- graphs in which one axis is scaled logarithmically 
    • all behavior changes of equal proportion are shown by equal vertical distances on the vertical axis 
      • Ex. a doubling of response rate from four to eight responses/minute would appear on a semilogarithmic chart as the same amount of change as doubling from 50 to 100 responses/minute 
    • data that is shown as an exponential curve on an equal interval chart is a straight line on a semilogarithmic chart 


Standard Celeration Chart

  • a type of semilogarithmic chart created by Ogden Lindsley to be used in Precision Teaching to chart academic and social behaviors
  • provides a standardized means of charting and analyzing how frequency of behavior changes over time 
  • instead of going up by 10's, the scales go up by MULTIPLES
  • students can self-monitor their progress within a fixed period of time 
  • allows for data to be squeezed into progressively tighter and tighter bundles and the slope looks the same whether you start iwth a very high or a very low level of behavior 
    • Ex. one child's correct responding improved from 2 to 4 and the other from 10 to 20. on the graph, both would show having improved 100% 

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When to use a Standard Celeration Chart

  • use when your primary concern is promoting rate of responding 
  • research shows the more rapid and fluent the rate of correct responding, the more durable the learning 


Scatter Plots 

  • shows relative distribution of individual measures in a data set 
  • data points are NOT connected 
  • depict changes in vlaue on one axis correlated with changes in vlaue on the other axis 
  • use when you want your data to effectively communicate the following relevant quantitative relations
    • the temporal distribution of the bheavior 
    • the grouping of the individual data points may help to identify elusive enviornmental stimuli 


Ethical Warning for Choosing Graphs

you must use the method that demonstrates the most ethical and valid representation of the target behavior--NOT a graph that skews the target behavior 


3 Fundamental Properties of Behavior Change in Graphs


  1. Level
  2. Trend
  3. Variability 




(one of the 3 Fundamental Properties of Behavior Change in Graphs)

  • the value on the vertical axis around which a series of data measures converge 
  • a change in level is illustrated when the data's average value changes 
  • Levels are examined by looking at mean, median, and/or range 
  • Two types of Level Lines
    • ​Mean Level Line- horizontal line drawn through the data points of the vertical axis equaling the average or mean vlaue of the data 
      • caution- may obscure important variability 
    • Median Level Line- horizontal line drawn through the data points on the vertical axis that shows the most typical performance within a condition 
      • better than the mean level line when your data has extreme outliers 

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(one of the 3 Fundamental Properties of Behavior Change in Graphs)

  • overall direction taken by the path
  • the general direction and rate of increase or decrease in which data move over time 
  • Trend is described in terms of: 
    • Direction 
      • increasing
      • decreasing
      • zero trend 
    • Degree
      • gradual 
      • steep 
    • extend of variability around the trend 
  • TREND LINE (LINE OF PROGRESS) - straight line drawn through the data to show the trend 
    • freehand 
    • mathematical formula- Ordinary Least Swuares Linear Regression Equation 
    • Split Middle Line of progress (best method for drawing trend line)


6 Steps to a Split Middle Line of Progress 


  1. Count- count how many data points are on the graph 
  2. Divide- divide the graph in half with a vertical line 
  3. Mid Rate- for each half of the graph, find the middle values on the y asiz for each half of the data points 
  4. Mid Date- for each half of the data, draw a vertical line for the middle points
  5. Quarterly Intersect Line of Progress - connect the 2 intersections of mid date and mid rate 
  6. Split MIddle Line of Progress - shift the quarterly intersect line up for down (keep it paralell to itself) so that an equal number of points fall above and below it 



(one of the 3 Fundamental Properties of Behavior Change in Graphs)

  • the extent to which the data bounce around the graph 
  • question to ask- how consistent is the change that is taking place 
  • frequency and degree to which multiple meausres of behavior yield different outcomes 
  • high degree of variability = little or no control over the factors influencing behavior 

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Visual Analysis of Temporal Relations of Data within and between Conditions

  • within - examining the data within each condition, determine the level, trend, and/or variability in each condition 
  • between - compare the data in different conditions to determine whether change in level, trend, and/or variability occured and to what extent any changes were significant