Chapter 2: Observing and recording behavior:
Behavioral assessment: Measurement of the target behavior. Necessary as helps to
determine if treatment is necessary (i.e. is there a problem that need to be fixed), choose best
treatment and before and after measurement helps if treatment was successful.
Direct vs. indirect assessment:
• Direct: observing behavior as it happen. Note: this can be done by a camera which in
this case and observing the behavior as it occurs. Need to have a precise definition of
the behavior that you are trying to measure. Example is when a psychologist or a
camera captures an isolated child in the playground and records every interaction he
• Indirect: involves using interview, rating scales to obtain info one target behavior from
the person exhibiting the behavior ( he needs to remember his behavior though) our
from other. Thus it relies on individuals recall of the target behavior. Example:
psychologist asking a teacher about the interaction of the socially isolated child.
• Direct better then indirect: because indirect relies on peoples memories and may not be
trained to pick up all the occurrence of the target behavior ( incomplete information),
where as direct the observer is trained specifically to observe and record the target
• The four steps of behavior recording plan: 1) define target behavior 2) determining the
logistics of the recording behavior ( when, where, whom etc) 3) recording method 4) and
recording instrument choosing.
1) Defining the target behavior:
• Identify exactly what person says or does that constitute the behavior deficit or excess.
Usually involves active verbs, is objective and unambiguous. Has to be recordable ( i.e.
intention= not good) and a label is not use to define a behavior ( i.e. angry is a bad
choice as it does not defines the person’s actions. Also, labels can mean different thing
to different people so it creates problems as to which behavior to look at). Example is
studying ( which means different thing to different people) vs reading notes, doing math
exercises, and doing practice exam ( clearly measured and observed). It all comes down
to the fact that specific behavior definition can be observed and recorded while labels
• To make sure it is correct: after reading your definition, 2 people independently
observing the same behavior agrees that behavior is occurring. This is called inter-
observer agreement or Reliability (IOA).
2) The logistics of Recording: • The observer: who will observe the target behavior ( someone trained and has the
ability to observe the client in a natural setting i.e. teacher). In some cases (i.e. behavior
occurs when no one is around), the client himself observes his own behavior called self-
monitoring ( but has to be trained to do so). This can also be combined with direct
observation by another observer.
• When and where to record: Observer record the behavior in a specific period called
observation period (usually at times when it is going to occur usually indirect
assessment by client or others can help). Consent is required. Natural setting: places in
which the target behavior typically occurs (i.e. in classroom for students). Provides a lot
of information and no external influence is present as compare to Analogue settings:
behavior that is not in natural environment (i.e. in clinic and watching a child play: clinic
not a natural environment). Benefits are that it is controlled environment, and variable
that influence behavior can be manipulated easily. Sometime researcher may produce
an natural environ in a which a behavior occurs.
• Structured vs. unstructured: Structure is where observer arranges for specific events
or activates to occur during the observation period of a target behavior. Unstructured is
no events are activities.
• In self-managing client may or may not record continuously. If he can’t (i.e. shuttering)
he may be asked to record during a specific observation period agreed upon.
3) Choosing a recording Method:
• Continuous recording: continuously recording the behavior whenever it occurs ( so
need onset and offset). Usually record its frequency: # of times it occurs in observation