Scientific Study of Human Behavior
Behavior analysis is a science that studies the behavior of human and non-human organisms. The focus of this science is to understand, explain, describe, and predict behavior. As a result, many individuals have been trained as practitioners and routinely use this technology to address behavioral needs.
The basic science is called the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB). This is largely a laboratory science that studies the behavior of a variety of species, including rats, pigeons, monkeys, and humans in an attempt to understand how behavior is influenced by environmental events. Over the last three-quarters of a century, this field has accumulated a large and methodologically sophisticated literature that has revealed the basic processes by which behavior is conditioned by environmental experiences. The basic laws of learning are now well established and widely used for both scientific and practical ends by many other disciplines.
The scientific activities of behavior analysis include efforts to extend findings from the basic research literature to everyday circumstances. This branch of the science is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and this large and diverse literature has spawned an effective technology for modifying behavior under widely varying conditions. As a result, many individuals have been trained as practitioners and routinely use this technology to address behavioral needs. These applications are quite diverse. (Auburn University, https://cla.auburn.edu/psychology/applied-behavior-analysis/about-behavior-analysis/)
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Over the years, applied behavior analysis has evolved with the practice of taking various faces and transitions. The gradual evolution of applied behavior analysis resulted from identifying better analogies and working solutions towards behavior change. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) refers to a scientific approach undertaken to understand behavior using various assessments. The approach aims at assessing behavior change and the possible factors or triggers leading to a change in behavior. It also identifies the consequences and various learning factors involved. Behavior is the abilities and actions necessary for talking, body movement, such as playing and generally living. The paper assesses the beginning of the scientific study of human behavior and various theories depicting the evolution of behavior analysis.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) marked a transition of psychology with new psychological interventions being identified. Initially, the leading schools of psychology aimed at inward thoughts, emotional state, and consciousness, which were considered relevant. It majorly involved the basic aspect of life and how humans carried out their daily activities. However, the turn in psychology led to the introduction of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to assess the root cause of various behavior. The study of applied behavior analysis involved formulating inner involvements and reviewing the unobservable. Thus behaviorism, a psychological school of thought, laid the foundation for applied behavior analysis revealing various aspects. It assesses inward thoughts and how they relate to behavior depicted when an individual act upon something (S, 2019). It then transitioned to assessing only noticeable, assessable behaviors.
External factors were then included as triggers of certain behavior, making the scientific study of human behavior a progressive measure. It was identified that the environment contributed to some of the developed behavior patterns and internal thoughts as a key factor. It also established that behavior is learned from the environment and through observation, on can be triggered to react in a certain way. However, the study of human behavior maintained some interconnectedness between behaviors and cognition, which is a psychological aspect. Through the scientific study of human behavior, various interventions were identified, such as different disorders and how they relate to humans (S, 2019). Therefore, the study of applied behavior analysis identified various applications such as treating and managing various disorders such as autism.
John B Watson, a psychology theorist, developed the theory of behaviorism, which marked the beginning of applied behavior analysis. The theory reacted towards psychology’s initial interest, which focused on inward thoughts identified as a major cause or trigger of behavior. Thus, the shift focused on observable behavior and measurable behavior. Watson identified that the environment was a major cause of the behavior and that through interaction, behavior is acquired through learning and the adoption of new actions. The theory also opposes the concept of consciousness, initially upheld in psychology and backed up by functionalism and structuralism. Watson’s behaviorism theory was focused on various sectors such as child development, where he argued against child beating and mistreatment. He argued that children tend to learn various behavior from the environment they are brought up in and carry along such skills in their later years (Ayre & Krishnamoorthy, 2020). The theory of behaviorism by Watson encouraged a conducive environment to achieve a slate mental state in children and adults.
Classical conditioning theory is another theory that explains the evolution of behavior analysis. It is also referred to as the Pavlovian theory and was established by one of the founding fathers of psychology, Ivan Pavlov, a renowned theorist. Ivan Pavlov identified that there are two stimuli responsible for a learned behavior or response to be attained. The theory also explained that psychology depicted humans in speech and emotional response towards an action result stimulus patterns. Such insights were backed up by John B Watson, who also argued that various experiences encountered by humans marked a learning phase of their lives, contributing towards different behavior patterns. The theory entails three stages of classical conditioning with a stimulus and a response involved in every stage. The first stage is the before conditioning involving the unconditioned stimulus producing an unconditioned response with no behavior learned at this point. The second stage is the during conditioning involving a stimulus and a conditioned response (Rehman et al., 2017). The final stage is the after conditioning with a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus to establish a conditioned response.
Ole’ Ivar Lovaas was an American clinical psychologist who contributed to the field by developing applied behavior analysis. He developed the Lovaas method, supporting operant conditioning in behavior. One of his known achievements related to applied behavior analysis is his theoretical work and its relation with the treatment of Autism (Jones et al., 2017). Ole’ Ivar Lovaas focused on the use of reinforcement to attain behavior change and acquire new skills. Thus, the theorist received credit in the field due to his suggestion and use of environmental manipulations, backing up previous theoretical studies of applied behavior analysis (S, 2019). Ole’ Ivar Lovaas’s works are still used in the contemporary field of clinical psychology. However, some of his research was scrapped off since they were identified as uncouth applied behavior analysis (ABA) modification practices.
Generally, the scientific study of human behavior plays a crucial role in psychology brought about by continuous transitions and studies. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has also proved relevant in the general human involvements since some of the previous theoretical studies are used for clinical purposes. For instance, it focuses on child development and various health conditions involved in child development where its application is relevant. However, applying applied behaviors analysis in clinical therapy and other factors maintains ethical standards in behavior modification.