The Behavior Analyst

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 89–95 | Cite as

Improving Public Perception of Behavior Analysis

  • David H. Freedman
Original Article


The potential impact of behavior analysis is limited by the public’s dim awareness of the field. The mass media rarely cover behavior analysis, other than to echo inaccurate negative stereotypes about control and punishment. The media instead play up appealing but less-evidence-based approaches to problems, a key example being the touting of dubious diets over behavioral approaches to losing excess weight. These sorts of claims distort or skirt scientific evidence, undercutting the fidelity of behavior analysis to scientific rigor. Strategies for better connecting behavior analysis with the public might include reframing the field’s techniques and principles in friendlier, more resonant form; pushing direct outcome comparisons between behavior analysis and its rivals in simple terms; and playing up the “warm and fuzzy” side of behavior analysis.


Behavior analysis Mass media Public perception Public health Obesity Organizational behavior management 


Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NeedhamUSA

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