Updated: May 10
Studying for a big exam, refreshing your memory, or just interested in learning about ABA terminology? Read on for the definitions of several common terms used in the field of behavior analysis. Note: This is not an all-exhaustive list.
A format of data collection in which one records the antecedent, behavior, and consequence.
Antecedent: What occurred directly before the behavior
Behavior: The topography of the behavior
Consequence: What occurred directly after the behavior
ABC Data is a part of a descriptive assessment
A goal that is currently being taught
An environmental stimulus that directly precedes a behavior
Note: An antecedent is not what caused the behavior
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
The application of behavioral principles based on the science of behavior and learning
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
A developmental disorder characterized by varying levels of deficits in communication and social interaction, and restrictive/repetitive patterns of behavior
Data on a behavior taken prior to the implementation of intervention
Anything an organism does or says
Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
An organization created to credential clinicians in the field of behavior analysis. The BACB certifies RBTs, BCaBAs, BCBAs, and BCBA-Ds.
A document created which establishes the behavioral expectations and the consequences for completion of the behavior (or for failure to complete the behavior).
When a change in the schedule of one component of reinforcement or punishment changes behavior in an opposite direction in the other component of the schedule.
Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP); AKA behavior reduction plan
A written document which outlines the strategies used to modify target behaviors.
A teaching method which consists of breaking a skill down into small components (task analysis) and teaching the skill is manageable steps.
A stimulus or event that occurs directly after a behavior.
Continuous schedule of reinforcement
Reinforcement provided after every occurrence of the target behavior.
Factual information such as measurement and statistics.
Discrete trial teaching (DTT)
A teaching strategy used to acquire new skills. In DTT, each learning opportunity has a discrete beginning and end.
Discriminative stimulus (SD)
A stimulus that signals the availability of reinforcement.
Repeating a sound/word following a model of the sound.
The repetition of vocalizations heard by others. Often times, echolalia presents as repetitively echoing TV/movie scenes.
Each certified professional in the field of behavior analysis is required to abide by ethical guidelines, set forth by the BACB.
A procedure for responding to and correcting incorrect responses.
Immediately prompting a response to eliminate the chance of erroring.
Behavior of a speaker that requires a vocal response.
Withholding reinforcement for behaviors which were previously reinforced.
An initial, temporary increase in behavior following the implementation of extinction.
Fine motor skills
Skills which require the coordination and movement of the smaller muscles in your body.
Fixed interval schedule of reinforcement (FI)
Providing reinforcement after a set amount of time.
Fixed ratio schedule of reinforcement (FR)
Providing reinforcement after a set number of responses.
Manipulating variables to determine the function of behavior.
Functional behavior assessment (FBA)
The process of assessing challenging behavior to identify the function and develop a BIP.
A behavior or skill which occurs in the presence of novel people, stimuli, and settings, which are different from the original teaching conditions.
Gross motor skills
Skills which require the coordination and movement of the large muscles of your body.
Reinforcing some, but not all occurrences of a behavior.
Verbal responding, which is controlled by the verbal behavior of others. This is the basis of conversations/ back-and-forth communication.
Behaviors which are considered harmful or interfere with an individual's ability to learn or interact with others.
Common AKAs include challenging, problematic, inappropriate, and interfering behaviors.
A request (for an item, information, help, etc.)
A behavioral principle which states that behavior occurs in proportion to where reinforcement is.
Natural Environment Teaching (NET)
A teaching strategy consisting of the presentation of learning opportunities in a learner's natural environment, using their motivation.
Occurs when the removal of a stimulus results in a decrease in behavior.
Occurs when a behavior is followed by the removal, termination, reduction, or postponement of a stimulus, resulting in that behavior occurring more often in the future.
Associating yourself with preferred items and activities to establish a positive therapeutic experience and improve instructional control.
Occurs when the addition of a stimulus results in a decrease in behavior.
Occurs when the addition of a stimulus results in an increase in behavior.
Assessments used to identify the preferences of a learner.
Testing a skill to identify if the individual has the skill in his skill repertoire.
Cues used to evoke a target behavior.
Listener behavior, which includes tasks that require a non-vocal response.
When a reinforcer loses its value due to overuse.
Self-Injurious Behavior (SIB)
Behaviors directed toward oneself that may cause harm such as head banging, biting oneself, etc.
Responding to a demand by linking multiple responses together.
Reinforcing systematic approximations toward a target skill or behavior.
Labeling or describing an item, event, activity, etc.
The behavior of interest that you are aiming to increase or decrease.
A step-by-step breakdown of a skill.
Variable interval schedule of reinforcement (VI)
Providing reinforcement after a varied amount of time.
Variable ratio schedule of reinforcement (VR)
Providing reinforcement after a varied number of responses.
Based on the works of BF Skinner; Understanding and teaching behavior as related to its' function.
A graphic representation of scheduled tasks and activities.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.