What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis is the science in which procedures are derived from the principles of behavior. These principles are systematically applied to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree and to demonstrate experimentally that the procedures employed were responsible for the improvement in behavior.

Cooper, Heron, & Heward (1987)

In one of the seminal articles in the field, Baer, Wolfe and
Risley (1967) describe the essential characteristics
of Applied Behavior Analysis:


Applied: Behaviors and skills being targeted must have some social significance.

Behavioral: The target behavior must be observable and precisely measured.

Analytic: There should be a clear relationship (functional relation) between the manipulated events and the target behavior, demonstrating the intervention was responsible for the change in the behavior.

Technological: Procedures are completely identified and precisely defined allowing for duplication of others.

Generality: Behavior should last over time, be demonstrated in different environments, or spread across new behaviors.

Effective: Behavioral techniques must improve behavior to a meaningful degree.

Conceptually Systematic: Description of procedures should be in terms of established and accepted principles.