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Chapter 13

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Amanda Uliaszek

Chapter 13 What is a Functional Assessment?  A functional assessment is a set of procedure by which we can identify connections between a behaviour and its antecedents and consequences  Oppositely, people in everyday life do very informal functional assessments when they try to figure out why people behave the way they do  More complete functional assessments have three outcomes: define target behaviour clearly, determine which antecedents function to produce the behavioural excess or deficit and reveal how the persons behaviour functions to produce reinforcement  Antecedents and consequenes are usually overt, can be covert too  Main purpose of f.a is to identify the consequences of the target behaviour  Studies identified four types of reinforcement: escape, attention, automatic and tangible, as maintaining the problem behviours and sometimes multiple reinforcers were involved  Escape is a form of negative reinforcement, we learn many behaviours because they end or postpone aversive circumstances (escape gets us out of something we don’t want) ex. Don’t like a song, so you change the radio station (this form of reinforcement used most)  Getting attention from other people is often an effective positive reinforcer (usually intended to compliment us or make us feel better) ex. Wow you look great, or even just giving a person a hug  In automatic reinforcement, the behaviour produces reinforce directly, such as when we massage an aching muscle to make it feel better (can be of both the positive or negative types)- can also maintain problem behaviours  In automatic positive reinforcement, the behaviour directly leads to a reinforcing stimulus being introduced or added (ex. If you sketch a picture and like what it looks like, you’ve received automatic positive reinforcement for your sketching)  In automatic negative reinforcement, the behaviour directly leads to the reduction or removal of an aversive situation (ex. Massaging a sore muscle or taking aspirin to relieve a head ache)  Tangible items are material objects, such as toys or articles of clothing, if receiving a tangible item for performing a behaviour strengthens that behaviour, that item is a tangible reinforcer Performing a Functional Assessment  Behavioural exess- undesirable behaviour the person performs too frequently  Behavioural deficit- desirable behaviour the person does not perform often enough  If the assessment involoves a behavioural excess, we focus on instances of the behaviour occurring too much and try to determine its antecedents and consequences  If assessment deals with behavioural deficit, we focus on instances when the behaviour could have or should have occurred, but didn’t  A functional assessment can apply any of the three approaches , from least to rigorous, the approaches for identifying antecedents and consequences are as follows: indirect methods, which use questionnaires and interviews, direct methods, in which instances of the behaviour are carefully observed in their natural setting and experimental methods or functional analysis, in which behaviour analysts manipulate antecedents and consequences to see their effects on the behaviour Indirect methods  Info about the behaviour and its antecedents and consequences is obtained from the target person or from other people who know the client as well, such as family, friends or teachers through interviews or questionnaires  Try to identify target behaviour and determine its antecedent conditions and consequences for both behaviour excess and deficits  Questionnaires collect similar info or can be more specific  Data from indirect methods is limited because they do not involve direct observation or the behaviour and rely on peoples memories  Is an easy method Direct Methods: Observation of Behaviour 
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