The Science of Behavior Analysis

The science of behavior analysis takes behaviorism as its fundamental tenet. Behaviorism, in turn, presumes that both animal and human behavior is conditioned, or trained. Learning is marked primarily by a change in behavior. This theory could not be more opposed to Freudian Psychoanalysis, which acts on the presumption that learning depends upon understanding, which comes from within, as opposed to conditioning, which comes stipulates that understanding is not always necessary.

Behavior Analysis started with the famed Ivan Pavlov, whose dog was conditioned to salivate at the ring of a bell through operant conditioning. From there, John Watson and B.F. Skinner continued to develop the field to what it is today.
There are two main branches, including theoretical and applied behavior analysis. Theoretical tackles the research and theory development side of the field, whereas applied behavior analysis suggests solutions for specific problems. Clinicians may use a behavioral approach to help clients recover from phobias by conditioning them to reduce the symptoms of their fear when encountering the object of phobia. Sociologists may pose solutions to more systemic issues, such as national drop-out rates, or low morale in a corporate setting. In all of these situations, behavior analysis looks at symptoms and proposes direct actions to ameliorate or remove those symptoms.

Information about Behaviorism and Behavior Analysis

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s page on Behaviorism – A peer-reviewed encyclopedia with extensive information on applications and discussions in contemporary behaviorism (last updated in 2005)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Stanford University’s resource on behaviorism – includes reasons to be a behaviorist (last updated in 2000)

Bryn Mawr University – History of Behaviorism – Focuses on the development of the science, particularly in the 1920s

Simply Psychology – A web-enabled, interactive resource on behaviorism – easy to use

Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary – Definition of Behaviorism

American Psychological Association Handbook of Behavior Analysis


Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) – A National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredited organization that trains and disburses certificates for behavior analysts.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Critical Incident Response Group – Uses behavior analysis to solve crimes and predict criminal behavior

American Psychological Association Division 25 for Behavior Analysis – Group devoted to behavior analysis, promoting research and application to human endeavors

Association for Behavior Analysis International – Since 1974, ABAI has facilitated development, discussion, and job placement for behavior analysts around the world

Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) List of Masters and Doctorate Programs for training

Journals, Newsletters

PsycSCAN: Behavior Analysis & Therapy – An American Psychological Association Division 25 publication (quarterly)

American Psychological Association Division 25 Recorder - Newsletter (intermittent records)

The Behavior Analyst – An ABAI publication – Volume 33, No. 1 – 2012

Behavior Analysis Online (BAO) – Online resources for behavior analysts with links to content

Behavioral Development Bulletin – heavy on theoretical development of the field

The Behavior Analyst Review – A two piece review of literature published in 2007

Behavior Modification (BMO) – applications of the field, 1977-present

Behavioral Interventions

Behavior Research and Therapy – 1963-present

Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention – Focus on contemporary, critical issues for clinicians

In the News

Applications to Autism now covered by private insurance companies in California – NBC Los Angeles

FBI Unit brought in to consult for case – Mail Tribune

Applications to Consumer Behavior in China – Reuters

Informal Microblogs and blogs

Different Roads to Learning - Applications with postings on a daily basis

ABAI Practice Board Blog – Kept fairly well in 2010 with 143 articles but no recent posts

The Behavior Analyst - weblog about the field posting once every month or two

Applied Behavior Analysis: As User Friendly as Possible – Posts once per year