Experimental Functional Analysis & Treatment
Functional analysis methodology as an assessment tool may yield general benefits with respect to practice, prevention, and research (Iwata, Vollmer, & Zarcone, 1990).
The identification of behavioral function improves our ability to develop effective treatment programs in four ways.
First, it allows us to specify the antecedent conditions (i.e., establishing operations [EOs], discriminative stimuli [SDs]) under which behavior occurs and to alter them so that problem behavior is less likely.
Second, a functional analysis identifies the source of reinforcement that must be eliminated in order to produce extinction or, alternatively, what must be done to minimize reinforcement.
Third, the same reinforcer that currently maintains the behavior problem may be used to establish and strengthen alternative behaviors.
Finally, results of a functional analysis will identify those reinforcers and/or treatment components that are irrelevant.
The term "functional analysis," when used in reference to behavior, denotes empirical demonstrations of "cause and effect relationships" between environment and behavior (Skinner, 1953).
Thus, whether the goal of intervention is to increase or decrease the frequency of behavior, a functional analysis identifies the variables responsible for change (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968).
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