Scientific Colloquium
January 26, 2007

"Behavior Works: The Functional Analysis of Behavior"

Understanding, predicting, and changing behavior is critical to all facets of life, especially when behavior is considered problematic to the individual behaving or to those around him/her. Our efforts to resolve behavior problems are greatly hindered when behavior is conceptualized as something an individual has rather than something s/he does under certain conditions and not under other conditions. When we think that problem behaviors are due to something inside the individual, we naturally consider it the in-dividual’s problem. When we think that problem behaviors are due to the conditions in which the behavior is demonstrated, we try to change the conditions — that part of behavior we can do something about. In this presentation, a cross-species model for assessing how conditions set the occasion for and maintain prob-lem behaviors will be discussed. This model, called functional as-sessment, reveals answers to the three fundamental behavior-change questions: What (identify the problem behavior in ob-servable, unambiguous terms); when (predict the conditions un-der which it will occur and not occur); and, why (what purpose does it serve for the individual). The far-reaching relevance of this model to improving the lives of all individuals, human and non-human, will be discussed.

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