Goals and target behaviors
What Some of the target behaviors need to be: some involve a behaviour deficits such as late,
and poor reports at work, and some involve behavioral excess such as joking around at staff
A good definition of target behavior is objective and unambiguous so that it defines exactly what
the person does that constitutes the behavioral excess or deficit you want to change.
Identifying and defining behavioral goals
The goals behaviour analysts want to achieve by applying a behavior change program can be of
two types: outcome goals and behavioural goals.
Outcome goals are the broad or abstracted results we want to achieve. Outcome goals in
behavior change programs usually are very obvious and straightforward, relating directly to the
broad characteristics we’ve noticed about the person.
A behavioral goal is the level of target behavior we hope to achieve in a program EX: for the
target behaviour of studying, the goal behavior could be to study 20 hours a week.
Losing weight would be an outcome goal for a dietary target behavior (Exercising more could a
target behavior), and the behavioral goal might be to reduce snacking to two servings per day.
Parents and teachers who want to improve students’ learning often focus on an outcome goal,
usually grades, rather than on the behaviors that enable attainment of the goal. Hence it is
better to find the behavior for that could enable success. For instance a student’s low grade
level may involve a single skill, such as spelling or reading, identifying that skill as the target
behavior and working to improve it could increase his or her grades in several subjects.
Once each target behavior and behavioral goal for an intervention has been identified, we need
to define them very clearly and in measurable terms.
Defining operant target behaviors
Eating is an operant behavior, and to change it, you’ll need to alter its antecedents and
consequences. If you define a target behavior vaguely, you will be uncertain when weher and
how to introduce appropriate antecedents and consequences.
Behavior analysits tend to focus on changing overt behaviours because we can define external
behaviors more clearly and measure them more objectively than internal behaviours.
Measuring the behavior is a very subjective process. Without some independent way of
substantiate the persons self-reports any progress that is made will be unclear
Defining and measuring internal changes (covert) in psychology such as increases in pressure or
heart rate, often requires special apparatus or biochemical analyses.
One physiological measure you can make easily and fairly accurately is heart rate: when you are
taking somones pulse you are counting heartbeats.
Defining respondent target behaviors
two previously unrelated events- a neutral stimulus and a response. Because we learn CR’s—such as fears and dislikes—they can be targets of behavior change
When designing a program to change a respondent behavior, we need to define the behavior in
terms of its internal or external responses or both.
Like operant behaviours respondent behaviour can be overt or covert.
Prioritizing: which behavior to address first
the behavior analysts answer these questions to answer the following
“is the new or change behavior likely to:
o lead to reinforcement in the target person’s everyday environment
o reduce the occurrence of harm or danger: EX: aggressive acts can harm individuals
o be a prerequisite for learning a skill that enable to person to function better? EX:
learning the names of number is impo before learning to do arithmetic
o affect in positive ways important individuals in the clients life EX: parents-as disabled
child learns self care.
o Be a behavioral cusp? A behavioral cusp is a behavior that has benefits beyond its direct
effects because it exposes the person to new and riches environments, learning
opportunities and consequences that would not be available otherwise. EX : child learn
to crawl, read.
o Show response generalization: altering one behavior leads to similar change in another,
unaddressed response usually one that is similar or related to the target behaviour EX:
children learn language skills ..add Ed to the end of certain words.
o Take the place of or interfere with performing problem behaviour: EX: rewarding
students for raising hand instead of blurting it out.
Types of data
Frequency: Behaviour refers to the number of times the response was observed. This is Appropriate
measure when the behavioral goal involves changing how often the behavior occurs, and each instance
of the target behavior is discrete—that is, has a clear start and end—and takes about the same amount
of time to perform.
Duration: refers to the length of time each instance of the target behavior lasts from start to finish. This
type of data is appropriate for assessing instances of a target behavior that last for varying periods of
time are subject to a behavioral goal that involves either increasing or decreasing that time.
Magnitude: in a program to reduce someone’s anger, wouldn’t it be important to asses how strong the
anger is? . magnitude—its intensity, degree, or size. Impo if the behavioral goal involves changing the
intensity, degree or size of an action or its product and is that measure can or does vary. Usually impo to
use a magnitude measure when changing emotional behaviors such as overt or covert expressions of
anger, jealous, fear and depression. The most common way to measure emotion magnitude is to use a rating scale with discrete
Data of other types
one measure is latency- or the amount of time a person takes to inatiate the appropriate
response to an antecedent. EX: assessing th quickness with which someone complies with a
If you behavioral goal involves improving how well person performs a target behavior, you will
assess its quality.
Trials to criterion: involves tallying the number of trials the target person needed to achieve a
specific level of perfromace, relatively low number of trails needed to reah the criterion can