Applied behavior analysis

Applied behavior analysis (ABA), also called behavioral engineering,[1][2] is a scientific technique concerned with applying empirical approaches based upon the principles of respondent and operant conditioning to change behavior of social significance.[3][4] It is the applied form of behavior analysis; the other two forms are radical behaviorism (or the philosophy of the science) and the experimental analysis of behavior (or basic experimental research).[3]

The name applied behavior analysis has replaced behavior modification because the latter approach suggested attempting to change behavior without clarifying the relevant behavior-environment interactions. In contrast, ABA changes behavior by first assessing the functional relationship between a targeted behavior and the environment.[5][6][7] Further, the approach often seeks to develop socially acceptable alternatives for aberrant behaviors.[7]

ABA has been utilized in a range of areas,[8] including applied animal behavior, schoolwide positive behavior support, classroom instruction, structured and naturalistic early behavioral interventions for autism, pediatric feeding therapy, rehabilitation of brain injury,[9] dementia, fitness training, substance abuse, phobias, tics, and organizational behavior management.

ABA is considered to be controversial by some within the autism rights movement due to a perception that it emphasizes indistinguishability instead of acceptance and a history of, in some embodiments of ABA and its predecessors, the use of aversives such as electric shocks.[10][11][12]