Department of Psychology

About Behavior Analysis

Behavior analysis is a science that studies the behavior of human and non-human organisms. The focus of this science is to understand, explain, describe, and predict behavior. The field may be subdivided into two aspects of scientific endeavor, as well as an associated technology for changing behavior for practical purposes.

The basic science is called the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB). This is largely a laboratory science that studies the behavior of a variety of species, including rats, pigeons, monkeys, and humans in an attempt to understand how behavior is influenced by environmental events. Over the last three-quarters of a century, this field has accumulated a large and methodologically sophisticated literature that has revealed the basic processes by which behavior is conditioned by environmental experiences. The basic laws of learning are now well established and widely used for both scientific and practical ends by many other disciplines.

The scientific activities of behavior analysis include efforts to extend findings from the basic research literature to everyday circumstances. This branch of the science is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and this large and diverse literature has spawned an effective technology for modifying behavior under widely varying conditions. As a result, many individuals have been trained as practitioners and routinely use this technology to address behavioral needs. These applications are quite diverse, as the following list indicates.

  • education
  • autism
  • self-injurious behavior
  • developmental disabilities
  • infant assessment
  • gerontology
  • organizational performance management
  • training and instructional design
  • behavioral safety
  • the experimental analysis of behavior (basic research)
  • brain injury rehabilitation
  • human operant research
  • animal and pet training
  • verbal behavior
  • behavior pharmacology, drug self-administration and drug discrimination
  • behavior toxicology
  • behavioral medicine
  • computer modeling of behavior and artificially intelligent agents
  • decision support systems
  • human factors and user interface design

Additional information on the field of Behavior Analysis may be accessed on the following web sites.

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Last Updated: August 02, 2016