Introduction to the Principles of Behavior Analysis

Empirically Based Practice in Psychology is “the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences” (Levant, 2005)”Its purpose is to promote effective psychological practice and enhance public health by applying empirically supported principles and requires the appreciation of the value of multiple sources of scientific evidence.”(Evidence-based practice in, 2006)”EBPP is a means to enhance the delivery of services to patients within an atmosphere of mutual respect, open communication, and collaboration among researchers, policymakers, patients, and practitioners.”(Evidence-based practice in, 2006)

Introduction to the Principles of Behavior Analysis

Experimental studies of operant conditioning have been around for thousands of years; however, it was not subjected to scientific analysis until the late 1800’s. Operant conditionin was activated by Edward L. Thorndike who was interested in animal intelligence and then later conducted the first experimental studies of operant conditioning. With his most famous experiment being the puzzle box, Thorndike classified his famous law of effect. Law of effect states that behaviors leading to a satisfactory state of affairs are strengthened or “stamped in,” while behaviors leading to an unsatisfactory or annoying state of affairs are weakened or “stamped out.” Thorndike’s law of effect being a major part in the field of psychology, it was B.F. Skinner who established a true understanding of behavior through operant conditioning.
Burruhus Fredrick Skinner believed that behavior was a reflex of sorts and thus invented the best-known apparatus in experimental psychology, the Skinner box. A chamber for rats, so that when the rat presses a bar, a pellet of food drops into a food tray. Later in his experiment, Skinner started using pigeons. This chamber consisted of a pigeon pecking at a disc to give access to a food bin. Skinner eventually discarded the notion that behaviors are simply just reflexes and came to believe that they were either voluntary (operant behaviors) or involuntary (respondent behaviors) and are governed by consequences rather than stimuli.