What Is Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis or ABA is a branch of science that makes use of modern theory of learning in order to modify behavior. The people who makes use of the theory reject the use of hypothetical constructs and puts their focus on observable relationships to the surrounding environment.ABA analysts believe that by assessing relationships at a targeted behavior and the environment the ABA can be used to modify behavior. ABA has been used frequently to treat people who have developmental problems such as autism disorders; however this theory has been successfully employed in other areas such as in AIDS prevention, industrial safety, medical procedure, severe mental disorder and even animal care.

Applied behavior analysis seeks to analyze behavior and is applied systematically in order to improve socially accepted behavior, experimentation is used to identify the variables which are responsible for change in behavior.ABA is only one of the main fields of behavior analysis others are behaviorism and experimental analysis of behaviors. The article done in 1968 by Baer, Wolf and Risley is still a major authority in describing the dimensions used in ABA which are application, focus on behavior, general approach, conceptual system and use of analysis and technology.

The Wolf, Baer and Risley have seven dimensions with certain characteristics which includes;

Applied: Areas of social significance are a major concern to ABA, these scientists take in to consideration not at just the short term change in behavior but also how such change affects the consumer, those who are close to the consumer and if the modification of behavior will alter the interactions between the two.

Behavior: In ABA the behavior must change not just what the consumer says or thinks about the behavior. The goal of the behavior scientists is not just to stop the consumers from complaining about behavioral  problems, rather they need to change the problem behavior itself.ABA believes that behavior must be objectively measured as a behavioral scientist cannot be able to measure non-behavioral substitutes.

Analytic: Behavioral scientist must be able to demonstrate control over the behavior that is being changed. An ABA scientist in the lab can be able to stop the behavior at will which makes it as easy as any research or experiment. In real life such practice is not only hard  but also unethical ,according to Wolf and Risley this should not be a hindrance to science from accomplishing its principles.ABA therefore uses certain designs that best employed in applied settings in order to demonstrate control as well as maintain ethical standards.

The two are reversal and multiple baseline designs, in reversal design the choice of behavior is measured before any interventions are made. Immediately the pattern of behavior is established as stable intervention is introduced and behavior is measured again. Should the behavior change with the intervention measurements are taken and this continues until the behavior seems to be stabilized. After some time the intervention is removed or reduced and measurement is taken again in order to find out if it has changed.ABA believes that if the scientist has truly established control over the behavior with the interventions the behavior of interest should change due the intervention of the changes.