The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 171–181 | Cite as

The Speciation of Behavior Analysis

  • David P. Rider


The relationship between the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been the subject of several editorials and commentaries in recent years. Various authors have argued that researchers in these two fields (a) have become isolated from each other, (b) face different requirements for survival in their respective fields, and (c) possess different skills to meet those requirements. The present paper provides an allegory for the relationship between EAB and ABA in terms of biological speciation. The conditions that have changed the relationship between EAB and ABA are parallel to those responsible for biological speciation: (a) isolation of some members of a species from the rest of the population, (b) different contingencies of survival for members of the two separate groups, and (c) divergence in the adaptive characteristics displayed by the two groups. When members of two different groups, descendants of common ancestors, no longer are capable of producing viable offspring by interbreeding, the different groups then represent different species. To the extent that members of the EAB group and members of the ABA group interact with each other only trivially, they each represent allegorically different species. Changes in the relationship between EAB and ABA are part of a natural process that takes place in many other sciences, and the course of that process can hardly be reversed by us.


applied behavior analysis experimental analysis of behavior applied research basic research evolution speciation 


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • David P. Rider
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Allied Health ProfessionsLouisiana State University Medical CenterNew OrleansUSA

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