2015 APDT Annual Educational Conference & Trade Show

TH08 - Behavior Analysis for Animal Behaviorists: More Reasons Not to Use the Word "Dominant"

Oct 15, 2015 1:30pm ‐ Oct 15, 2015 4:45pm

Standard: $20.00


Behavior analysis gives us incredibly powerful tools for changing behavior through our use of learning principles, including reinforcement, extinction, stimulus control, and motivation. Entrenched in a behavior analytic perspective is the importance of the function of behavior (what does the behavior produce for the animal) as compared to a structural approach (what does the behavior look like physically). To most effectively and directly modify behavior, we need to understand the function of behavior. Pulling from the huge human literature of applied behavior analysis, we will assess different methods for assessing the function of behavior and discuss how and when to implement them, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method. We will conclude with identifying the different functions of behavior that might exist, and how to use our knowledge of those functions to most effectively choose our treatment plans.

Learning Objectives:

  • Analyze how a functional approach to behavior differs from a structural perspective and how a function approach enhances our training techniques
  • Describe how to generally implement a questionnaire, A-B-C descriptive analysis, and functional analysis to assess functions of a behavior, as well as understanding the limitations of each.
  • Assess how to make effective training decisions based on their knowledge of the function of a behavior, including antecedent manipulations, and consequence manipulations


  • Erica Feuerbacher, PhD, BCBA, CPDT-KA, Assistant Professor of Anthrozoology, Carroll College, Helena, MT.

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