Basic Research Designs in Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Alan Poling
  • Deborah Grossett
Part of the Applied Clinical Psychology book series (NSSB)


Applied behavior analysis relies on experimentation to assess the efficacy of interventions. Experimentation involves the measurement of one physical event, the dependent variable, under conditions where the value of a second physical event, the independent variable, is manipulated systematically. If the value of the dependent variable covaries lawfully with the value of the independent variable, a functional relation is evident. Functional relations are the basis of scientific laws; such relations allow for the prediction and control, hence the understanding, of phenomena studied as dependent variables. The logical configuring of conditions that allows changes in a dependent variable to be attributed to the actions of an independent variable is termed the experimental design. Although many specific experimental designs are capable of demonstrating functional relations, a limited number of designs are favored by applied behavior analysts. The purpose of this chapter is to describe these designs.


Target Behavior Extraneous Variable Apply Behavior Analysis Systematic Replication Behavior Analyst 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Poling
    • 1
  • Deborah Grossett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  2. 2.Richmond State SchoolRichmondUSA

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