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Behavior analysis is a discipline with three primary branches

  • Behaviorism, which focuses on the worldview or philosophy of behavior analysis;
  • The experimental analysis of behavior, which focuses on identifying and analyzing the basic principles and processes that explain behavior; and
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which focuses on solving problems of social importance using the principles and procedures of behavior analysis.

Applied behavior analysts select behaviors that are applied, meaning that they are socially acceptable and currently important to the individual whose behavior is being modified and his or her family. ABA’s general principles of learning and behavior are used to solve or reduce problems of social relevance.

ABA therapy is a method of treating people with autism by modifying behavior using positive reinforcement. This approach employs the principles of applied behavior analysis, which states that desired behaviors can be developed using a rewards-and-consequences system. In this method, a therapist identifies and sets a goal for the child to develop a target skill or behavior and measures his/her progress throughout the treatment period.

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Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis, Fisher, Piazza & Roanne, 2011