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Behavior Analysis

Behavior analysis is the scientific study of how a specific observable (and therefore measurable) behavior is related to specific observable events in the environment of that behavior—events (changes in the environment) that are antecedent (prior) to and those that are consequent to the behavior in question. The behavior of all living organisms is continuously and lawfully influenced (changed) by its consequences: Some increase and others decrease the probability of every response. Hence, the unique physical and social environment of an infant develops a unique person by selecting (strengthening) some behaviors (motor, verbal, and emotional) in certain situations and ignoring or punishing (weakening) others. In this continuous process of selection by consequences, every new skill encounters new features of the environment. Consequently, every person has some behaviors similar to those of everyone else and some that are different from anyone else. Behavior analysis is used to improve behavior by altering the environment.


Bijou, Sidney W., and Donald M. Baer. Child Development, Vol. 1:A Systematic and Empirical Theory. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1961.

Skinner, B. F. "Selection by Consequences."Science 213(1981):501-504.

Don Bushell Jr.

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 1