Terminology

Below is a sampling of terms used in the field. For a more detailed description please visit the references and articles posted to the BACB website: www.bacb.com

ABA Applied Behavior Analysis: scientific problem-solving approach to produce socially significant behavior
antecedent what occurs in the environment immediately preceding behavior
baseline the current measurement of behavior to compare to future data that indicates change/no change
behavior any movement of the muscles or glands of a living organism
behavior plan a plan that includes agreed upon antecedents and consequences based on function of the behavior
chaining backwards (teach last first) or forwards steps of a behavior, ex: brushing teeth
consequence what occurs in the environment immediately following behavior
contingency if this, then this
contract behavior agreement between behaver and deliverer of reinforcement
deprivation withholding reinforcement to make it more valuable
discrete trials a method of teaching and reinforcing behavior
duration how long the behavior occurred ex: he cried for 13 minutes
errorless discrete trial format in which prompting is used on each response to avoid errors
establishing operation EO: anything that makes a reinforcer more valuable ex: hungry = food more valuable
expressive “output” of information, used to check for understanding; ex: what is it? “a ball”
extinction completely withholding reinforcement
extinction burst behavior has a high spike immediately before decreasing
fading moving from high level of reinforcement or prompting to low
field the number of items presented; if F = 6, 1 is correct response and 5 are distractors
frequency the number of responses ex: 4 pinches, said hello 6 times
function Attention, access, escape, sensory
functional assessment FBA: collection of information, including direct observation, to determine function
functional communication communication that can be understood and reinforced by the general public
generalization skill can be performed across different environments, stimuli, and presentors
latency the time between the sD and the response
negative as in reinforcement/punishment – anything taken away from the environment
overcorrection performing a behavior multiple times correctly after misbehavior (shutting door nicely 5x after slam)
planned ignoring designated times and procedures for ignoring,  ex: look away, walk away
positive as in reinforcement/punishment – anything added to the environment
Premack principal “grandma’s rule:” low response behavior before high response (vegetables then dessert)
private behavior behavior that only the individual can know: feelings, pain, emotions
 
prompt supplemental sD’s that increase the probability of a response; eventually faded to naturally occuring
prompt dependence waiting for a prompt before responding, even if the behavior can be done independently
punishment anything that decreases the future frequency of behavior
receptive “input” of information, used to check for understanding; ex: show me ball (points to ball)
reinforcement anything that maintains or increases the future frequency of behavior
differential reinforcement
continuous reinforcement
intermittent reinforcement
primary reinforcement
response the behavior of the organism after an sD
satiation repeated presentation of a reinforcer can reduce it’s efficacy ex: using food right after lunch
sD Discriminative Stimulus: the change in the environment that tells you reinforcement is available
shaping reinforcing successive approximations to the target behavior
task analysis breaking the task into steps to teach in small chunks
taskboard visual representation of what work, how much work, when am I done, what do I do next
time out time away from reinforcement
token economy rewarding tokens for appropriate behavior that can be traded in for reinforcement (i.e. money)
topography what the behavior looks like

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