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Behavioral – First, the behavior targeted for change must be the behavior that improves. For instance, if the behavior selected for change is to drive slower than the legal limit, then talking about reducing driving speed (talking is a behavior) alone is not enough. Second, the behavior must be as precisely and reliably measurable to the greatest extent possible. Third, the behavior selected for change must be the only behavior that changes, and not the observers’ behavior. We constantly question whether it is truly the behavior of interest that changed or if our behaviors (i.e., our observation) have changed.
Analytical – To demonstrate the intervention (manipulated events) is responsible for the behavior change. Ideally, we should expect the behavior change to occur with the intervention and not to occur when the intervention is absent. This is critical in the clinical setting because we want to be sure that the intervention used is responsible for the individual’s learning.
Technological – The procedures and techniques responsible for behavior change are comprehensively described. The technology notes the “how and what was done” in the intervention.
Effective – The behavior selected for change needs to be impactful to a clinical or socially significant degree. To address this question, people involved in dealing with the behavior should be asked how much the behavior needs to change. Additionally, to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention, the behavior change should also change the original reasons as to why the behaviors were selected to be improved in the first place.
Conceptually Systematic – all of the tactics, methods, and strategies used for behavior change must be derived from the principles of behavior. This is analogous to a tree, which may have an infinite number of branches and leaves are the tactics, however, they all can be traced to the tree’s roots, which are the principles of behavior. This significant characteristic is why various teaching methods (e.g., DTT, natural environment teaching (NET), pivotal-response training (PRT), etc.) are all accounted in the science and practice of ABA and that these specific methods are NOT independent of ABA.
Generality – The behavior change should
1) last over time
2) occur across different environments
3) spread to other behaviors that were not intervened directly. What good is the behavior change if it occurs narrowly under specific circumstances? Our goal is to teach lasting skills that the individual may demonstrate across different natural conditions.
Applied – The behavior selected for change must be socially important and results in improving the quality of life for the individual.