Behavior Analysis in Practice

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 12–21 | Cite as

Experimental Analysis of Behavior Readings Assigned by Accredited Master’s Degree Programs in Behavior Analysis

  • Ellie KazemiEmail author
  • Tara A. Fahmie
  • Sigmund Eldevik
Research Article


Although a foundation in the basic science of behavior represents a common goal of practitioners and educators of behavior analysis, the content covered in master’s degree–level courses on the experimental analysis of behavior (EAB) can vary widely across university programs. The purpose of our study was to analyze the syllabi of master’s degree programs accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International to develop a list of common readings and topics in EAB coursework that might be useful for curricular development. We identified the most frequently cited references, journals, and participant characteristics. We found commonalities among the syllabi with regard to the types of readings assigned and the topics covered. We discussed our findings in terms of current trends in EAB and quality graduate training in behavior analysis.


Basic science Essential readings Experimental analysis of behavior Graduate training 



We thank the faculty who contributed their course syllabi to our analysis and Timothy Hackenberg for his comments on a previous version of this manuscript.


This study was not funded by a granting agency.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Association for Behavior Analysis International. (2015). List of ABAI accredited programs. Retrieved from
  3. Association for Behavior Analysis International. (2017, September). ABAI accreditation handbook. Retrieved from
  4. Association for Behavior Analysis International Accreditation Board. (2018, January). About the behavior analysis accreditation board. Retrieved from
  5. Azrin, N. H., Holz, W. C., & Hake, D. F. (1963). Fixed-ratio punishment. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 6(2), 141–148. Scholar
  6. Bach, P., & Hayes, S. (2002). The use of acceptance and commitment therapy to prevent the rehospitalization of psychotic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(5), 1129–1139. Scholar
  7. Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91–97. Scholar
  8. Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2011). Ethics for behavior analysts (2nd expanded ed.). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  9. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2017, January). Introducing the BCBA/BCaBA task list (5th ed.). Retrieved from
  10. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2018a). Verified course sequences. Retrieved from
  11. Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2018b). About the BACB. Retrieved from
  12. Breland, K., & Breland, M. (1961). The misbehavior of organisms. American Psychologist, 16, 681–684. Scholar
  13. Carr, E. G., & Durand, V. M. (1985). Reducing behavior problems through functional communication training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18(2), 111–126. Scholar
  14. Carr, J. E., & Nosik, M. R. (2015). On the complexity of correlating a graduate program’s experiences with the success of its graduates: A response to Dixon et al. (2015). Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(2), 163–164. Scholar
  15. Catania, A. C. (2007). Learning (interim 4th ed.). Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan.Google Scholar
  16. Catania, A. C. (2013). Learning (5th ed.). Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan.Google Scholar
  17. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  18. Critchfield, T. S. (2015). What counts as high-quality practitioner training in applied behavior analysis? Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(1), 3–6. Scholar
  19. Critchfield, T. S., Buskist, W., Saville, B., Crockett, J., Sherburne, T., & Keel, K. (2000). Sources cited most frequently in the experimental analysis of human behavior. The Behavior Analyst, 23, 255–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dewey, J. (1896). The reflex arc concept in psychology. Psychological Review, 3(4), 357–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dixon, M. R., Reed, D. D., Smith, T., Belisle, J., & Jackson, R. E. (2015). Top 10 responses to the commentaries on Dixon, Reed, Smith et al. (2015). Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(2), 165–169. Scholar
  22. Dymond, S., & Critchfield, T. S. (2002). A legacy of growth: Human operant research in The Psychological Record (1980–1999). The Psychological Record, 52, 99–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Falk, J. (1966). Schedule-induced polydipsia as a function of fixed interval length. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 9, 37–39. Scholar
  24. Fleshler, M., & Hoffman, H. S. (1962). A progression for generating variable-interval schedules. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 5, 529–530. Scholar
  25. Hackenberg, T. D. (2009). Token reinforcement: A review and analysis. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 91(2), 257–286.
  26. Hayes, S. C. (2004). Acceptance and commitment therapy and the new behavior therapies: Mindfulness, acceptance and relationship. In S. C. Hayes, V. M. Follette, & M. Linehan (Eds.), Mindfulness and acceptance: Expanding the cognitive behavioral tradition (pp. 1–29). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  27. Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Roche, B. (2001). Relational frame theory: A post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.Google Scholar
  28. Herrnstein, R. J. (1961). Relative and absolute strength of responses as a function of frequency of reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 4, 267–272. Scholar
  29. Hursh, S. R. (1984). Behavioral economics. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 42, 435–452. Scholar
  30. Hursh, S. R., Madden, G. J., Spiga, R., DeLeon, I. G., & Francisco, M. T. (2013). The translational utility of behavioral economics: The experimental analysis of consumption and choice. In G. J. Madden, W. V. Dube, T. Hackenberg, G. P. Hanley, & K. A. Lattal (Eds.), APA handbooks in psychology: APA handbook of behavior analysis: Vol. 1, Methods and principles (pp. 191–224). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  31. Iwata, B. A., Dorsey, M. F., Slifer, K. J., Bauman, K. E., & Richman, G. S. (1994). Toward a functional analysis of self-injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(2), 197–209.
  32. Johnston, J. M., & Pennypacker, H. S. (1993). Strategies and tactics of behavioral research (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Kazemi, E., & Shapiro, M. (2013). A review of board standards across behavioral health professions: Where does the BCBA credential stand? Behavior Analysis in Practice, 6(2), 18–29. Scholar
  34. Kelley, D. P., III, Wilder, D. A., Carr, J. E., Rey, C., Green, N., & Lipschultz, J. (2015). Research productivity among practitioners in behavior analysis: Recommendations from the prolific. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(2), 201–206.
  35. Laraway, S., Snycerski, S., Michael, J., & Poling, A. (2003). Motivating operations and terms to describe them: Some further refinements. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 407–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lattal, K. A., & Doepke, K. J. (2001). Correspondence as conditional stimulus control: Insights from experiments with pigeons. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 34, 127–144. Scholar
  37. Lesieur, H. R., & Blume, S. B. (1987). South oaks gambling screen (SOGS): Instrument for the identification of pathological gamblers. Journal of Psychiatry, 144(9), 1184–1188. Scholar
  38. Madden, G. J. (Ed.). (2012). APA handbook of behavior analysis (Vols. 1–6). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  39. Mazur, J. E., & Logue, A. W. (1978). Choice in a “self-control” paradigm: Effects of a fading procedure. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 30, 11–17. Scholar
  40. Morris, E. K., Smith, N. G., & Altus, D. E. (2005). B. F. Skinner’s contributions to applied behavior analysis. The Behavior Analyst, 28, 99–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nevin, J. A. (1974). Response strength in multiple schedules. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 21, 389–408. Scholar
  42. Pastrana, S. J., Frewing, T. M., Grow, L. L., Nosik, M. R., Turner, M., & Carr, J. E. (2016, September). Frequently assigned readings in behavior analysis graduate training programs. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 1–7.
  43. Perone, M. (2003). Negative effects of positive reinforcement. The Behavior Analyst, 26(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pierce, D. W., & Cheney, C. D. (2013). Behavior analysis and learning (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pritchard, J. K., & Wine, B. (2015). Icing on the cake: The role of research in practitioner training. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(2), 140–141. Scholar
  46. Rachlin, H., & Green, L. (1972). Commitment, choice and self-control. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 17(1), 15–22.
  47. Reid, D. H. (1992). The need to train more behavior analysts to be better applied researchers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25(1), 97–99.
  48. Saville, B. K., Beal, S. A., & Buskist, W. (2002). Essential readings for graduate students in behavior analysis: A survey of the JEAB and JABA boards of editors. The Behavior Analyst, 25, 29–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schlinger Jr., H. D. (2015). Training graduate students to effectively disseminate behavior analysis and to counter misrepresentations. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(1), 110–112. Scholar
  50. Shook, G. L., & Johnston, J. M. (2011). Training and professional certification. In W. W. Fisher, C. C. Piazza, & H. S. Roane (Eds.), Handbook of applied behavior analysis (pp. 498–510). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  51. Sidman, M. (1960). Tactics of scientific research: Evaluating experimental data in psychology. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  52. Sidman, M. (2011). Can an understanding of basic research facilitate the effectiveness of practitioners? Reflections and personal perspectives. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 973–991. Scholar
  53. Sidman, M., & Tailby, W. (1982). Conditional discrimination vs. matching-to-sample: An expansion of testing paradigm. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, 5–22. Scholar
  54. Skinner, B. F. (1938). The behavior of organisms: An experimental analysis. New York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  55. Skinner, B. F. (1953). Operant behavior. In Science and human behavior (pp. 59–90). New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
  56. Skinner, B. F. (1974). About behaviorism. New York, NY: Vintage.Google Scholar
  57. Terrace, H. S. (1963). Discrimination learning with and without “errors”. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 6, 1–27. Scholar
  58. Zeiler, M. (1977). Schedules of reinforcement: The controlling variables. In W. K. Honig & J. E. R. Staddon (Eds.), Handbook of operant conditioning (pp. 201–230). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentCalifornia State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral ScienceOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations