Applying ABA Experimental Designs to Help Reach your Goals

Changing Criterion Design

Experimental designs may sound overly complicated, but they can be a great method to help you reach your SMART goals. Applied Behavior Analysis typically uses single-subject research designs, and each different design can help you reach your goals in different ways.

One type of experimental design is called a changing criterion design. This strategy will be helpful if you want to gradually increase or decrease how often you do something or how long you engage in a certain behavior.

How to use a changing criterion design:

(1) Collect data on your current level of behavior. This can often be how many times you engage in the behavior or how long you engage in the behavior across a certain span of time

  • Examples: Number of times you work out, how often you eat fast food, how long you go for walks, etc.

(2) Set an initial goal for a level slightly higher or just lower than your current performance

  • If you want to do the behavior more, increase the level

  • If you want to do the behavior less, decrease the level

  • Keep in mind that you are gradually going to build up to your desired level, so try not to make too large of a leap here, as it may demotivate you

(3) Get to action and start collecting data on your performance. It may be helpful to graph the data so you have a visual depiction of your progress.

(4) Once you reach the initial goal, set a new goal for a level that is slightly higher or lower than your previous goal

(5) Continue steps 3-4 until you’re performing at your desired level

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