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Applied Behavior Analyst Essay


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Applied Behavior Analyst

Question 1: Selection and Measurement of Target Behaviors

Target behavior can be described as that behavior which has been earmarked for transformation (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007). For instance, when a mother makes the decision to allow a child to begin eating with a knife and fork, then this new selected learning experience is the unique target behavior. As such, this involves the identification of the relevant factors that influence or otherwise inform the desired intervention. In assessing the target behavior, a parent as in this case has to screen the identified target behavior, define the criteria for realization, pinpoint such behavior, monitor progress and subsequent follow ups (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007). The pre-assessment phase involves social validity of targeted behavior, resources to be employed, permission as well as authority to influence such transformation are some the ethical elements considered. Two assessment methods are normally employed, these are, direct and indirect assessment measures. Prior to the analysis of a particular behavior, it is important to first critically, objectively, concisely and clearly define it (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007). Behavior analysts are expected to consider all behavior transformation initiatives in a positive manner. The data recorded this is aimed at ensuring the collection of information and progress monitoring accurate and easy to effect.

Question 2: Prioritizing Problem Behaviors

There are a number of reasons as to why a behavior analyst seeks to execute habilitation of target behaviors. The behaviors may be targeted based on the threat to the safety or overall health of an individual, the frequency in problem behavior occurrence, longevity and the probability of good rates for subsequent reinforcement (O’Donohue & Ferguson, 2001). The importance of instituting a particular behavior is also considered whether it is towards enabling greater independence or skills development. Prioritizing targeted behavior also looks to limiting the occurrence of negative attention. Other issues considered in prioritizing the target behavior include cost-benefits concerning a client’s effort and time, the likelihood of overall access as defined by resource availability, environmental variables, practitioner experience as well as research (Mohammadzaheri, Koegel Rezaee & Rafiee, 2014). Behavior analysts often employ a ranking matrix that offers a form of numerical rating towards the prioritization potential target behaviors. Such matrix ranking can also play an important role in increasing the client, staff as well as parent participation by building for greater consensus and resolving arising incidences of conflict. Such a ranking matrix can determine whether the targeted behavior is dangerous, how long such behavior has been deficient or problematic, whether it can translate to greater reinforcement rates and the success rate of achieving desired outcomes (O’Donohue & Ferguson, 2001).

Question 3: Functional and Topographical Behaviors

Behavior analysts are in essence practitioners and are professionally mandated to have the complete information concerning operational definitions (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007). On the same note, these definitions offer the foundations of achieving explicit and accurate definitions for specific behaviors. These also ensure believable and accurate evaluation of behavior change effectiveness.

The two core definitions are either function based or topography oriented. The function oriented definition is selected relative to environmental effects (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007). Conversely, the topography oriented definition is concerned with identifying the form or shape of a particular behavior (Cooper, Heron & Heward, 2007). For the function definition, the most significant aspect is the purpose of a specific behavior. Similarly, function oriented definitions allow for concise and simple definitions which are not only easier to accurately measure but also reliable to employ. Topography oriented definitions are meant to incorporate all possible response types which provide relevant outcomes.




O’Donohue, W., & Ferguson, K. E. (2001). The psychology of B. F. Skinner. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Mohammadzaheri, F., Koegel, L. K., Rezaee, M., & Rafiee, S. M. (2014). A randomized clinical trial comparison between pivotal response treatment (PRT) and structured applied behavior analysis (ABA) intervention for children with autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders44(11), 2769-2777.