What is Applied Behavior Analysis

What is Applied Behavior Analysis

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?


According to the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 112, Section 162, defines the practice of applied behavior analysis as:


The design, implementation and evaluation of systematic instructional and environmental modifications, using behavioral stimuli and consequences, to produce socially significant improvements in human behavior, including the direct observation and measurement of behavior and the environment, the empirical identification of functional relations between behavior and environmental factors, known as functional assessment and analysis, and the introduction of interventions based on scientific research and which utilize contextual factors, antecedent stimuli, positive reinforcement and other consequences to develop new behaviors, increase or decrease existing behaviors and elicit behaviors under specific environmental conditions that are delivered to individuals and groups of individuals; provided, however, that the “practice of applied behavior analysis” shall not include psychological testing, neuropsychology, diagnosis of mental health or developmental conditions, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, sex therapy, psychoanalysis, psychopharmacological recommendations, hypnotherapy or academic teaching by college or university faculty.





According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board:


Behavior Analysis is the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. Two primary areas of study include the experimental analysis of behavior and applied behavior analysis. The experimental analysis of behavior is the basic science of the discipline and has, over many decades, accumulated a substantial and well-respected body of research literature on how behavior is learned and changes over time. The experimental analysis of behavior is the scientific foundation of applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA is a systematic approach for influencing socially important behavior through the identification of reliably related environmental variables and the production of behavior change techniques that make use of those findings.

Practitioners of behavior analysis provide services consistent with the dimensions of ABA. Common services may include, but are not limited to, conducting behavioral assessments, analyzing data, writing and revising behavior-analytic treatment plans, training others to implement components of treatment plans, and overseeing the implementation of treatment plans. Behavior analysts are qualified to provide services to clients with a variety of needs, including improvements in organizational functioning (e.g., staff performance, management and pay structure interventions), skill deficits (e.g., communication, adaptive behavior), and problem behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injurious behavior), among others.... For the purposes of BACB certifications and exams, the content of applied behavior analysis is contained in the BACB Fourth Edition Task List.



​Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968)

Applied behavior analysis, as known today, was originally defined by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) in terms of seven dimension in the article, "Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis" in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.




Practice Areas


Applied behavior analysis is the science of behavior and applies to all human and animal behavior.  Although there are many examples of the application of ABA to human or animal behavior, ABAI provides a list of various special interest groups related to applied behavior analysis.



ABA and Autism Services


ABA is a safe and effective treatment to help people with autism and developmental disabilities live happy and productive lives. Notably, ABA techniques and principles can help individuals to obtain independence in daily activities, acquire academic skills and engage and communicate more effectively with others.  Applied Behavior Analysis professionals throughout the Commonwealth have received extensive training in their field and become licensed applied behavior analysts or assistant applied behavior analysts through the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals.'

For additional information on ABA and autism treatment, please visit the Association for Science in Autism Treatment's (ASAT's) website at http://www.asatonline.org/for-parents/learn-more-about-specific-treatments/applied-behavior-analysis-aba/