The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

What Happened to Analysis in Applied Behavior Analysis?

  • W. David Pierce
  • W. Frank Epling


This paper addresses the current help-oriented focus of researchers in applied behavior analysis. Evidence from a recent volume of JABA suggests that analytic behavior is at low levels in applied analysis while cure-help behavior is at high strength. This low proportion of scientific behavior is apparantly related to cure-help contingencies set by institutions and agencies of help and the editorial policies of JABA itself. These contingencies have favored the flight to real people and a concern with client gains, evaluation and outcome strategies rather than the analysis of contingencies of reinforcement controlling human behavior. In this regard, the paper documents the current separation of applied behavior analysis from the experimental analysis of behavior. There is limited use of basic principles in applied analysis today and almost no reference to the current research in the experimental analysis of behavior involving concurrent operants and adjunctive behavior. This divorce of applied behavior research and the experimental analysis of behavior will mitigate against progress toward a powerful technology of behavior. In order to encourage a return to analysis in applied research, there is a need to consider the objectives of applied behavior analysis. The original purpose of behavioral technology is examined and a re-definition of the concept of “social importance” is presented which can direct applied researchers toward an analytic focus. At the same time a change in the publication policies of applied journals such as JABA toward analytic research and the design of new educational contingencies for students will insure the survival of analysis in applied behavior analysis.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. David Pierce
    • 1
  • W. Frank Epling
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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