PSYB45: Behaviour Modification Textbook Notes
Chapter 2: Observing and Recording Behaviour
¾ One fundamental aspect of behaviour modification is measuring the behaviour that is targeted
for change. Measurement of the target behaviour (or behaviours) in behaviour modification is
called behavioural assessment. Behavioural assessment is important for a number of reasons:
o Measuring the behaviour before treatment provides information that can help you
determine whether treatment is necessary.
o Behavioural assessment can provide information that helps you choose the best
o Measuring the target behaviour before and after treatment allows you to determine
whether the behaviour changed after the treatment was implemented.
Direct and Indirect Assessment
¾ There are two types of behavioural assessment: direct and indirect.
¾ Indirect assessment involves using interviews, questionnaires, and rating scales to obtain
information on the target behaviour from the person exhibiting the behaviour or from others.
¾ With direct assessment, a person observes and records the target behaviour as it occurs. To
observe the target behaviour, the observer must be in close proximity to the person exhibiting
¾ In addition, the observer must have a precise definition of the target behaviour so that its
occurrence can be distinguished from occurrences of other behaviours.
¾ Direct assessment usually is more accurate than indirect assessment. Usually because the
¾ Direct assessment methods for observing and recording the target behaviour in a behaviour
modification program include the following steps:
o Defining the target behaviour
o Determining the logistics of recording
o Choosing a recording method
o Choosing a recording instrument
Defining the Target Behaviour
¾ The first step is to define the target behaviour. You must identify exactly what the person says
of does that constitutes the behavioural excess or deficit targeted for change.
¾ The behavioural definition uses active verbs, it is objective and unambiguous.
¾ It does not refer to an internal state (e.g. angry, happy, sad, etc) because such internal states
cannot be observed and recorded by another person.
¾ Labels are not used. They are ambiguous; they can mean different things to different people.
¾ When two people independently observe the same behaviour and both record that the
behaviour occurred, this is called interobserver reliability (IOR) or interobserver agreement.