I just finished a whole 8 week course on Applied Behavior Analysis. I was already familiar with ABA when class began but I learned a lot in these last 8 weeks. I want to share some of the key points that really hit home with me.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
“ABA is defined as the science in which the principles of the analysis of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior, and in which experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for change in behavior.” (Wikipedia – Cooper et al.. Applied Behavior Analysis. p. 20.)
In simple terms, you can manipulate the environment and consequences to change an animal’s behavior. It is important to be able to identify antecedents, behavior, and consequences when creating a behavior modification program. This is why professionals can help you – they should be trained enough to observe the entire situation, minute behaviors, and reactions that you may miss.
- Culture Fog is incredibly rampant. Even the most experienced professionals experience some culture fog and need to consciously look outside the box every once in a while.
- Why – as in what is the animal thinking – is not that important. Assuming there are no medical conditions, why an animal does something will not help discover the solution. Just change what you can (antecedent and consequence).
- Science is self correcting. It isn’t based on tradition and if something new comes around or something is proven incorrect, science moves on to the best methods.
- Reflexes are NOT influenced by consequences.
- Both positive and negative consequences are feedback.
- Animals who can control their environment and what happens to them are much happier and confident animals.
- Manipulation of antecedents are critical when modifying behavior.
- Intermittent reinforcement once a behavior has been learned is important in preventing the extinction of that behavior.
And I learned so much more! I found this class very valuable for behavior modification and while it is not the be all, end all of animal behavior, I believe every animal trainer should be familiar with the ABA process. ABA can be applied to all animals. Here is a video of someone who has trained a goldfish to do awesome tricks!
If you are interested in taking this class next time it is offered, go here: http://www.behaviorworks.org/htm/lla_professional_overview.html.