BCBA Task List (5th Edition)

7 Philosophical Assumptions of the science of Applied Behavior Analysis

All scientists share a fundamental assumption about the nature of events that are amenable to investigation by science, general notions about basic strategy, and perspectives on how to view their findings. Today we are breaking down the 7 philosophical assumptions of the science of ABA!

Determinism: The presumption that the universe is lawful and an orderly place in which all phenomena occur as a result of other events.

  • Things don’t just happen out of nowhere

Empiricism: the practice of objective observation of the phenomena of interest.

  • Our observation can’t hold any prejudices or opinions

Experimentation: A carefully conducted comparison of some measure of the phenomenon of interest (the dependent variable) under two or more different conditions in which only one factor at a time (independent variable) differs from one condition to another.

  • Data collection is everything!

Replication: The repeating of experiments (as well as repeating independent variable conditions within experiments)

  • Only by repeating an experiment can we truly assess reliability and validity. This also keeps science itself honest with replication to determine consistent results.

Parsimony: All simple, logical explanations for the phenomenon under investigation be ruled out, experimentally or conceptually, before more complex or abstract explanations are considered.

  • We must rule out all other resources until the use of a more invasive or explanations of a targeted behavior are assessed

Philosophic Doubt: The requirement that scientist continually question the truthfulness of what is regarded as fact.

  • We must constantly be questionable or skeptical of treatments, experiments, etc.

Pragmatism: The philosophical attitude that something has value, or is true, to the extent that it leads to successful outcomes when practically applied.

From Chapter 1 of Applied Behavior Analysis, Second Edition. Cooper, Heron, Heward. by Pearson Education, Inc.

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