ABA Characteristics
Basic ABA
Selecting and Defining Bx
Measuring Bx
Bx Measurement Quality

Methodological vs. Radical Behaviorism? 

Methodological Behaviorism (Watson): Observable events NOT private. SR relationship

Radical Behaviorism (Skinner): Private and Public events considered. SRS relationship


What is automaticity of reinforcement?

conditioning occurs automatically, no awareness needed


Describe difference between function based and topography based definitions? Why use one over the other?

Function Based Definitions: Behavior definition based off the common effect on the environment (escape, attention, automatic, access)

Use function-based definitions because-

  • Encompasses all relevant forms of the response class
  • The function is SUPER DUPER important!
  • Often simpler and more concise than topography based which leads to more accurate and reliable measures

Topography Based Definitions: Behavior definition based off the shape or form of the behavior (what it looks like)

Use topography-based definitions because-

  • No direct or reliable understanding of function
  • Each instance of bx produce different outcomes

Describe the 2 derivative measures of behavior.

Percentage- reports proportional quantity

  • Often for percent of correct responding, percent of intervals scores, etc.
  • Accurately reflect level and change in behavior. Watch for inaccurate representation- look at trial counts
  • No dimensional qualities

Trials to Criterion- number of response opportunities needed to achieve predetermined criteria


Measurement that are Valid and Reliable but NOT Accurate yield data that are: Always wrong, sometimes wrong, or meaningless for purposes for which measurement was conducted?

always wrong


Levels of Scientific Understanding- Tell us all there is to know!

Description: systematic observation to quantify behavior occurrences

Prediction: Repeated systematic observation to prove correlation (but NOT causation)

Control: Systematic manipulation of IV and observing effect on DV to prove causation

Control = highest level of scientific understanding


Describe the 2 forms of selection by consequence?

Ontogeny (Operant): learned history, development of individual during life time

Phylogeny (Respondent): Natural selection in evolution of individual. Genetic/ Inherited Bx


What is reactivity and how do we account for it?

Reactivity: the effects of an assessment procedure on a bx being assessed. Person being assessed is aware of assessment/assessor and behaves differently.

Account for this by: being unobtrusive, observing more often, observe on an unpredictable schedule.


What is an artifact and when do they happen?

Artifact: Something that appears to exist because the way it was measured

            Caused through-

  • Discontinuous measurement: i.e. WIR measured 30% occurrence and PIR measured 70% occurrence
  • Poorly Scheduled Observations
  • Insensitive scales- creating a “ceiling”  or "floor" on responding

Indirect Measurement, measuring wrong dimension of target behavior and Measurement Artifacts are threats to what indicator of trustworthy measurement?

Validity/Valid measurement


Attitudes of Science- Do you know them? 

Describe at least 3, but I know you can do them all! 

Determinism: Cause and effect relations / lawfulness

Empiricism: Facts, observable and measurable

Experimentation: Manipulate variables, measure, collect data

Replication: Repeat experiments/ Reliability

Parsimony: Simplest and most logical explanation

Philosophical Doubt:  healthy skepticism


Habituation vs. Habilitation- What's the difference?

Habituation: stimulus repeated over short period of time = strength/ magnitude of response diminishes or stops over time

Habilitation: Degree which someone’s repertoire maximizes short- and long-term reinforcers and minimizes short- and long-term punishers


What is the relevance of behavior rule and how does it tie into normalization?

Relevance of Behavior Rule: behaviors should be selected that are likely to produce reinforcement in the individual’s natural environment.

Normalization: The use of progressively more typical environments, expectations, and procedures to establish and maintain personal behaviors which are as culturally normal as possible.

PHILOSOPHICAL IDEA- goal of greatest integration of people with disabilities into mainstream society

By choosing behaviors that are relevant and will meet reinforcement in the natural environment we can increase the chance of that individuals normalization.


Describe the 3 measurable dimensions of behavior.

Repeatability (aka countability)- how a bx can be counted or how it can occur repeatedly through time. Frequency, Rate, and Celeration.

Temporal Extent- how much time a bx takes up. Duration

Temporal Locus- at what point in time does the bx occur. IRT and latency.


Known as the “gold standard” in behavior analysis research and practice, this type of measurement detects ALL instances of target behavior during the observation period

Continuous measurement, frequency and duration


What is GET A CAB? Tell me ALL!

Generalization: Skill/bx occurs across people and environments

Effective: interventions monitored to track impact on bx/ improve bx

Technological: procedures can be replicated, clear and concise

Applied: socially significant bx

Conceptually Systematic: consistent with principles in literature

Analytic: data-based decisions, functional relationship

Behavioral: observable and measurable bx


Explain operant behavior and conditioning.

BONUS: what selection by consequence form goes with it? 

Operant Bx: History of consequences. Response is EVOKED, SRS relationship, 3-term contingency

Conditioning: Reinforcement and Punishment affect future bx



What are the 4 main assessment methods? Which ones are direct/indirect?

Assessment Methods-

Interviews: rely on “what” and “when” questions NOT “why” questions. (INDIRECT)

Checklists/Rating Scale: descriptions of bx and conditions in which they occur (INDIRECT)

Standardized Tests: measure of persons performance (DIRECT)

Direct Observation: seeing bx in natural environment, Anecdotal Observation (ABC recording) (DIRECT)


What measurement methods are continuous and which are discontinuous? 

Continuous: Rate, Frequency, IRT, Latency, Duration

Discontinuous: WIR, PIR, MTS 


____ ____ is the biggest threat to the accuracy and reliability of data in ABA

Human Error


Oh mentalism... What is the difference between hypothetical constructs, explanatory fiction, and circular reasoning? 

Hypothetical Construct: a presumed/unobserved process. "Conscience/ Imagination"

Explanatory Fiction: fictional variable used to explain bx. "He hand flaps because he is autistic"

Circular Reasoning: cause and effect are the same. "He cried because he is sad"


Explain respondent conditioning. 

BONUS: explain respondent extinction and higher order conditioning.

Respondent: Bx= reflexive, unlearned/ unconditioned. Response is ELICITED- SR relation

Conditioning (Pavlov & Dogs): 

Stim-Stim pairing: US w/ NS= CS

Conditioned Reflex created

Extinction: CS presented without US over time CR is extinguished

Higher Order Conditioning: Stim-Stim pairing of NS with a CS


Behavior cusp vs. Pivotal behavior? Give 2 examples of each!

Behavior Cusp: behavior that exposes individual to new environments, reinforcers/punishers, contingencies etc.

Examples: Learning to walk/crawl, driving, using google, learning to read

Pivotal Behavior: A behavior that once learned produces corresponding modifications or covariations in other adaptive untrained behaviors (leads to new untrained behaviors)

Examples: Self-initiation, choice making, joint attention, FCT, self-management, imitation


Describe the 4 time sampling procedures. 

Whole Interval Recording (WIR): Bx occurs during entire interval. Underestimate occurrences of bx. Use with bx you want to increase

Partial Interval Recording (PIR): Bx occurs at any point of interval. Overestimates high frequency bx. Underestimate duration. Use with bx you want to decrease

Momentary Time Sample (MTS): Bx occurs moment the interval ends. Can over or underestimate bx. Use when cannot continuously observe.

Planned Activity Check (PLACHECK): MTS but for group behavior


RBT #1 in a clinic setting recorded Billy using profane language 10 times during a 30-minute observation period and RBT #2 recorded Billy swearing 9 times during that same period. What is the Total Count IOA?

Answer: smaller count/larger count X 100, 9/10 x 100= 90%

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