28 Sep ABA Insights: The Value of Learning about Behavior Analysis
We all behave! And by that, I mean we all act or conduct ourselves in a specific way, especially toward or in response to specific events or people around us. For example, responding to your friend’s greeting by saying “Good morning” is a behavior. Responding to a parent’s tickles with giggles and requesting “more tickles” are behaviors; hugging your dog when they nudge you for snuggles- is a behavior, stomping when mom says “no more cookies” is a behavior. Walking to the fridge to get some cold water to drink when thirsty is a behavior.
A Behavior is any observable action in which a person engages. By that definition, everyone is always behaving and responding to various people, activities, or objects around them throughout the day.
Why is it important to know this? It is important because while we’re all continuously behaving daily, we are also changing our behaviors by modifying various events we encounter in a day, in planned or unplanned ways (for better or worse). And while sometimes these modifications result in positive outcomes and experiences, they sometimes result in negative ones. It is essential because learning specific concepts relevant to the science of behavior (and principles of ABA) can empower you with techniques to maximize the positive and minimize your negative experiences and outcomes. It allows you to better advocate for yourself or your child – because you are better informed.
Behavior Analysis – is a field that closely observes behavior and its interaction with the environment/surroundings. It is a science that highlights that every behavior a person engages in is a planned or unplanned observable action that results from exposure to an item/event/stimuli. It also explores the extent to which a behavior is maintained or continues to occur by its contact with a specific item/event/stimuli that follows it. Additionally, it educates us about how simple management of certain events or triggers can decrease aversive experiences while increasing positive ones and, as a result, increasing one’s ability to adapt better.
So why does one need to manage these events and modify behavior in the first place? Because you’re doing it anyway, you don’t realize that you are. People often change various environmental components to guide their and other’s behaviors to avoid specific aversive experiences or increase the likelihood of meeting certain rewards/reinforcers. For example, setting an alarm to avoid getting to work late; completing a project well- to increase the possibility of receiving a bonus at work; washing dishes to avoid a lecture from a parent or spouse on discipline. (A toddler) tapping a parent’s nose to see what kind of attention they will get. Most of us modify behaviors daily without realizing it (since birth).
The problem arises when one does not understand the “why” behind behaviors and, as a result, modifies them by tackling faulty components of the environment (or their surroundings). Thus, making it tough to minimize adverse events or experiences encountered and causing one to feel upset, disappointed, or frustrated, etc.
Hence, this increases the value of understanding and learning the science of behavior. It empowers you to be informed about the events you or those you care about contact that might be influencing behaviors. In fact, not only does it help you identify what influences behaviors, but how to better manage these events to guide positive management of behaviors that result in positive and rewarding outcomes. So, hop on the education wagon if you’re interested in learning more about Behavior Analysis and how it relates to behavior change in different contexts for you, those you care about, and for those with whom you work. Education and collaboration is the best way for families and ABA teams to come together, learn about the field, and become advocates for the positive management of behaviors.