Welcome back to the Behavior Bake Blog! We hope you’re enjoying the spooky festivities this month, getting the house decorated and kids costumed up for a fun, Halloween time, or just enjoying fall outright. The weather is so much nicer this time of year! This time on the blog, we wanted to go in depth into what we do, the key principles behind Applied Behavior Analysis, what makes ABA unique in the field – The 7 Dimensions of ABA.
This is something we’ve covered Applied Behavior Analysis elsewhere before but we are going to dig a bit deeper this time around.
But first, some history.
The Origins of the 7 Dimensions of ABA
Back in 1968, pioneers Baer, Wolf, and Risley published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (Spring, 1968) entitled “Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis” that would become a touchstone in the field.
The ‘current’ dimensions discussed explained the fundamental characteristics of applied intervention and distinguishes between the experimental or conceptual analysis applications. These are now well known as the 7 Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis
The 7 Dimensions of ABA
Applied doesn’t refer to how the analysis works, but rather what it is looking at. The applied interventions should work towards something of societal importance. To quote Baer, Wolf, and Risley,
“In behavioral application, the behavior, stimuli, and/or organism under study are chosen because of their importance to man and society, rather than their importance to theory.”
The applied interventions work with a behavior that is measurable. It seeks not to change what a subject would say but what they would do. The practice needs to effect real change, not just spoken change.
Effective applied interventions need to be able to demonstrate objectively, that the intervention is what caused the change in behavior. Baer, Wolf, and Risley are quoted to say,
“An experimenter has achieved an analysis of a behavior when he can exercise control over it. By common laboratory standards, that has meant an ability of the experimenter to turn the behavior on and off, or up and down, at will.”
That may sound a little magical, but to be honest, it kind of is. ABA works to manage behavior, and it would not be scientifically sound if it was able to clearly show its efficacy.
No, this doesn’t mean it requires the fanciest computer systems or machinery. It merely means that the process of developing an applied intervention is so rigorous and complete, that anyone with proper training and resources should be able to generate the same behavioral change.
That’s what we do in our workshops, we give our parents (maybe you are one of them!) an understanding not just the training on how to implement these changes but the know – how on why they work so that they can easily replicate the success they are seeing.
This one is a bit of a doozy but we’ll try to walk you through it. Essentially, it is the dimension of ABA that makes it clear that ABA is not just tricks. They have an identifiable basis in theory. The applied intervention, in it’s technological description is further related to the basic principle of behavior development. This allows for ABA to be an expanding field
The applied interventions produce the desired socially important effect. As Baer, Wolf, and Risley put it ever so bluntly, “If the application of behavioral techniques does not produce large enough effects for practical value, then application has failed.”
For our purposes here at Behavior Bake, those ‘socially important effects’ are making your family a more harmonious unit, being able to navigate whatever difficulties you are experiencing. Don’t think the victories you’ll have aren’t big, to us they are the exact ‘desired socially important’ effect we want.
The designed interventions should work in new environments, past when the formal treatments have ended. Or as the pioneers put it, “A behavioral change may be said to have generality if it proves durable over time, if it appears in a wide variety of possible environments, or if it spreads to a wide variety of related behaviors.”
Newer research has suggested more dimensions being added to it, but for now, these seven remain the key 7 Dimensions of ABA. All quotes are taken directly from the article, “Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis”, which can be read in full at that link. It’s not too long of a read and may help you really understand where we are coming from with it.