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How the Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis are Applied when Modifying Target Behaviors

How the Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis are Applied when Modifying Target Behaviors

My name is Juliet Anozie, and I am a behavioral analyst with over 25 years of experience. Behavioral analysis widens an individual’s perspective on human behavior and equips them with the prerequisite skills necessary for rehabilitating or modifying behavior. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis as per the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s provisions. Professionals who certify the board at this level are allowed to practice independently to provide behavioral analysis services. To become a licensed behavioral analyst, one must earn a relevant bachelor’s degree in psychology or applied behavioral analysis (ABA). One may also need to complete graduate coursework for a behavioral analytics program, complete the required behavioral analysis fieldwork under close supervision from qualified behavioral analysts, apply for and take a BCBA examination, and apply for state licensure from their state of practice.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board further outlines requirements for the number of hours for supervised fieldwork. As per these provisions, one is required to complete a minimum of 2000 supervised hours. Alternatively, they may finish 1500 hours of concentrated supervised fieldwork to be certified. The final steps of examination and licensure usher a behavioral analysis student into the behavioral analyst profession.

Behavioral analysis is a wide discipline that utilizes scientific research to help behavioral analysts understand human behavior and learning processes and utilize the knowledge to help people rehabilitate or modify their behavior. It focuses on applying behavioral principles that form the bulk of the theoretical provisions of the course to address real-life situations. The science of applied behavioral analysis is grounded on three fundamental principles: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and three-term contingency (Yu et al., 2020). These principles inform human behavior and learning processes and lay the groundwork for addressing them. Behavioral analysts are thus interested in human behavior and their relationship to the human environment. This way, they can determine environmental influences on human behavior and postulate behavioral techniques that can modify human behavior to realize positive changes.

A look into a day in the life of a behavioral analyst reveals their experiences with clients with diverse presentations. The exploration of three case scenarios reveals the clinical challenges and dilemmas that behavioral conditions present. The first case scenario is of a third-grade female child called Lori, who was recently diagnosed with autism. Her parents complain about the challenges they face preparing her for school in the morning. They recount that getting her out of the door is a struggle. She would yell for not wanting to put on shoes and even kick them away. They also mention that she likes school and walks in with no problem, something they attribute to her liking to play with her iPad. Lori, however, hates transitioning from playing with her iPad.

In this case scenario, the target behaviors include lessening Lori’s repulsive behavior when she is being prepared for school, maintaining her liking for school, and promoting seamless transitions from playing with her iPad. Punishment techniques can be used to lessen Lori’s s behavior that makes her parents struggle with preparing her for school. Beaverton et al. (2022) report that punishment eliminates an unpleasant behavior in a child and reduces its chances of happening in the future. For the child, in this case, her parents can offer a form of punishment whenever she throws away her shoes. This may include telling her that if she throws away her shoes, she will be denied the IPad. Lori’s liking for school can be reinforced by adding a positive reinforcer. Allowing Lori access to her iPad may make her like school more. Transitioning challenges can be addressed through motivation operations. The child’s dislike for transitions may be due to her liking playing with the iPad. Scheduling her use of the iPad may make her more receptive to transitioning to other activities.

The second scenario is of a parent complaining about the son, Sam, being a class clown. He fancies making other class members laugh even when he is being inappropriate. Sam’s teacher also admits that his behavior is disruptive and expresses the desire to have the behavior worked on. She has even tried to put him in timeout at the back of the class with no success.

The target behavior, in this case, is for Sam to stop his behavior. A motivation operations technique can be applied in the case above. A value-altering effect of motivation operations occurs when the effectiveness of the stimuli reinforcing the behavior is changed (Jacobs et al., 2019). In this case, not laughing at his utterances may lower the value of making those utterances. In the long term, this may lower his likelihood of making the remarks.

The third scenario is of a four-year-old female, Sarah, who has difficulty sharing with her younger sister and friends. On a field trip to Florida, she kept snatching things from her young sister and never returned them. Reports from the school teacher revealed that Sarah also had difficulty sharing the kitchen station. She would hoard food items and never allow other children to come closer to them. She would even bite or scratch the children to repulse them. Her parents note that her behavior makes it difficult for them to have playdates and even go anywhere she needs to share.

The target behavior, in this case, is for the child to embrace sharing. A motivation operation and punishment can be used to address the case above. Punishment may apply when the child in the case snatches items from her fellows. This can either be by yelling at them or denying them the item they snatched from their fellows. Abolishing operations can be used to make Sarah stop her behavior. Hill et al. (2020) assert that abolishing operations lowers the value of a reinforcer and could potentially lower the value of a child’s behavior. In this case, giving the child twice as many items as what her younger sister and other fellows at school are given may potentially lower her possessive behavior.

The interventions highlighted significantly resulted in the children’s behavior change. In the first case scenario of the autistic child, Lori, the punishment technique used to stop her from throwing her shoes whenever she was being prepared for school was effective. The parents noted that Lori stopped throwing her shoes when she was being dressed and is more receptive to their morning preparation routines. The positive reinforcement technique was also successful as it made the child have a liking for school. Her parent noted that she always wanted to go to school to play with her iPad. The interventions on the second child were also successful. Sam’s clownish behavior reduced considerably. The class teacher asked the other children not to pay attention to Sam’s disruptive behavior. He rarely makes inappropriate remarks suggesting the success of the interventions. Similarly, the interventions used in the third case were successful. Notably, giving Sarah twice as many items as her other fellows lowered her tendency to snatch items from them. She was also punished in several instances for snatching items from her fellows. She is beginning to embrace sharing as she rarely snatches items from her fellows.

In summary, behavioral analysts play an important role in addressing behavioral presentations in humans. Their understanding of human behavior makes them vital in guiding behavioral modifications targeted at bringing positive changes. As a bachelor’s in Psychology in Applied Behavioral Analysis prepared student, knowledge of the fundamental principles of ABA is vital. This knowledge guides behavioral analysts’ professional roles in addressing presenting clinical challenges and dilemmas.


Hill, D. A., Mantzoros, T., & Taylor, J. C. (2020). Understanding motivating operations and the impact on the function of behavior. Intervention in School and Clinic56(2), 119–122.

Jacobs, K. W., Morford, Z. H., & King, J. E. (2019). Disequilibrium in behavior analysis: A disequilibrium theory redux. Behavioral Processes162, 197–204.

Neaverson, A., Murray, A. L., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. (2022). Disrupting the link between corporal punishment exposure and adolescent aggression: The role of teacher-child relationships. Journal of Youth and Adolescence51(12), 2265–2280.

Yu, Q., Li, E., Li, L., & Liang, W. (2020). Efficacy of interventions based on applied behavior analysis for autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Investigation17(5), 432–443.


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Explain how the principles of applied behavior analysis are applied when modifying target behaviors.
: Demonstrate college-level communication through the composition of original materials in Standard English.
For this week’s assignment, you will write a 4-5 page narrative essay to present to a group of undergraduate students prior to their graduation (note for this assignment, you will only write the essay. There is no actual presentation component).

How the Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis are Applied when Modifying Target Behaviors

How the Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis are Applied when Modifying Target Behaviors

You are playing the role of a behavior analyst who has been working in the field for 25 years. You have been asked to speak to college students who will be graduating with their Bachelor’s in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis in less than a month. You want your message to be meaningful to these students, and you want to engender pride in the work done by behavior analysts and inspire these students to obtain their Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certifications. You want to establish your credibility as a speaker for the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) by presenting some background information about your education and expertise in the field, as well as a brief overview of the science of ABA.

You believe that describing a day in the life of a behavior analyst might be the best way to get your message across. Sharing an early experience you had speaking to a group of parents will be an effective approach. You recount an experience you had speaking to a group of new parents who had many questions about behaviors being demonstrated by their children.

Listen to the scenarios presented by three different parents during that discussion.

Parent #1: “Lori is in 3rd grade and was recently diagnosed with autism. It is a struggle for us to get out of the door in the morning because when we try to get her to dress herself or pack her things, she has a lot of behaviors. We will say, “Lori, get your shoes and put them on,” and she will yell, “No, I don’t want to!” and kick, sometimes even throw them. We have to leave and usually run late, so this is really difficult for our family. She likes going to school, and once we get there, she walks in with no problem. It might be related to the fact that she wants to keep playing with her iPad, as she also hates transitioning away from that.

Parent #2: My son, Sam, is the class clown. He enjoys making others laugh, even when he is being silly or inappropriate. His teacher has told us that he will shout things like, “Poo poo car!” and other kids will laugh. This is very disruptive for the classroom setting, and we really want to work on this “potty talk.” When he shouts things like this, his teacher always has to reprimand him and say, “Please use nice words; do not say those things.” It doesn’t seem to be working. She has always tried putting him in timeout in the back of the classroom, but no success.

Parent #3: Sarah is four and has a hard time sharing with her younger sister and friends. We went on a road trip to Florida and the car ride was very difficult. Sarah kept snatching things out of her younger sister’s car seat and not giving them back. It is hard to block, and we can barely reach back to manage the situation. At school, her teacher reported that she has difficulty sharing the kitchen station. She hoards the food items and won’t let other kids come near them. She has even gone as far as to bite them and scratch on the arms. This behavior is making it difficult for us to have playdates and go anywhere where she might need to share.

Write a 4-5 page narrative essay in which you include the following:

Introduce yourself and describe the education and experience requirements the students would need in order to sit for the BCaBA exam. Then, provide a brief overview of the science of ABA.
Summarize each parent’s dilemma and provide your explanations of the contingencies at work maintaining the target behaviors, i.e., reinforcement, punishment, and motivating operations.
Include your behavior intervention plan for modifying the behaviors in each case, along with your process and rationale for each case.
Discuss mock future communications you received from each of these three parents regarding the successes they encountered when implementing your suggestions.

Your Assignment should be a 4-5 page narrative essay, not including the Title and Reference pages, and should include the following elements:

Title page should be in APA Style.
Body: Answer the questions in complete sentences and paragraphs
The assignment must be written in Standard English and demonstrate superior organization, including a highly developed viewpoint and purpose. The communication of your thoughts must be highly ordered, logical, and unified, displaying exceptional content, organization, style, and mechanics (including the use of correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure).
Reference Page should be in APA Style.
Use Arial or Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced
Use 7th Edition APA Formatting and Citation style

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