Chapter 13 – Functional Assessment and Program
- When people who want to change a target behavior do not analyze its functions, they frequently
make the situation worse without realizing they are doing so.
- Functional Assessment: is a set of procedures by which we can identify connections between a
behavior and its antecedents and consequences.
- A functional assessment should:
1) Define the target behavior exactly and clearly
2) determine the antecedents produce the excess or deficit.
3) reveal how reinforcement is produced.
- Antecedents and consequences in functional assessment are usually overt, but can be covert.
-There are four types of reinforcement:
1) Escape (34.2%): we learn many behaviors because they end or postpone aversive
2) Attention (25.3%): often an effective positive reinforcer / Sometimes a reprimand is attentions
enough to serve as a social reinforcer, particularly for a problem behavior/ often occurs when
the target person normally gets too little attention or lacks the desirable behaviors that would
3) Automatic (15.8%): The behavior produces a reinforcer directly, such as when we massage an
aching muscle to make it feel better / in negative reinforcement the behavior directly leads to the
reduction or removal of an aversive situation / the reinforcement is not provided by someone
else./ automatic negative reinforcement appears to maintain binge-eating and compulsive-buying
behaviors in people by reducing their unpleasant emotions, such as depression or anxiety.
4) Tangible (10.1%): material objects, such as toys or articles of clothing / in some cases tangible
items are given to children to soothe or distract them after they performed a problem behavior,
especially self-injurious behavior.
- multiple reinforcer types (14.6%)
Performing a Functional Assessment
-target behavior can be one of two types:
1) Behavioral excess
2) Behavioral deficit
- if the assessment involves a behavioral excess, we focus on instances of the behavior occurring
too much and try to determine its antecedents and consequences. If the assessment deals with a
behavioral deficit, we focus on instances when the behavior could have or should have occurred.
-the approaches for identifying antecedents and consequences are:
- indirect methods (questionnaires etc.)
- direct methods ( observations in natural setting)
- experimental methods / functional analysis ( manipulated antecedents ad consequences
to see effects)
- obtained from the target person or from family, friends etc through interviews and
questionnaires - often use structured set of questions tha typically ask…:
- description of target behavior (frequency, duration, intensity )
- personal factors (diet, sleep etc)
- antecedents conditions (when, where, whom etc)
- what does the person achieve with the behavior
- what could be the reinforcement
- any efforts made in the past to stop? Their outcomes?
- indirect methods are easier and more convenient to carry out than more rigorious methods of
functional assessment, and they can provide tentative info that can support and be confirmed by
data from more rigorious methods.
DIRECT methods: Observation of the behavior
- someone has the job of watching for and describing the actual target behavior and its
antecedents and consequences in the natural enviro.
- person should be trained before hand.
-they can use either of two strategies:
1) Unsrtuctured descriptive assessment: observations are done without altering natural events in
2) Structured descriptive assessment: involves observations in the natural enviro while specific
antecedent events are manipulated systematically/ consequences are allowed to happen as usual
an are not altered.
- procedures depend on if we used unstructured or structured.
Unstructured: continuous recording, designate periods of time, record every instance of it and its
antecedents and consequences (seen in ch2).
Structured: set up opportunities to observe by presenting one or more antecedents and recording
how the person behaved and the consequences that occurred in each case.
- Behavior analysts know more about conducting about conducting unstructured that structured
descriptive assessments because the latter strategy is fairly new, having been introduced around
the turn of the 21rst century.
- generally useful patterns in ppls everyday behavior tend to emerge after about 2 to 5 days of
observation, after about a dozen or more instances of occurences or nonoccurrences.
A~B~C log: A chronological record of the target behavior’s occurrences and nonoccurences,
along the the antecedents and consequences of each instance. / record its date, time, place etc as
preceisely as possible. Seven Antecedent types (antecedents: occurances that proceed target behavior)
- 1- Activity
-5- Physical events
- We use the data collected to fill out a summary report: this form organizes, collates, and
summarizes the data, allowing us to see patterns among the factors examined and the behavior.
-First they should enable us to predict when the target behavior is likely to occur or not occur
- Second we should be able to see how different consequences relate to the behavior, why the
behavior does or does not occur?
- if relationship are unclear and do not reveal sufficiently clear patterns, we can do two things :
1) check the data col