Applied Behavior Analysis Dimensions

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 3
Words: 676
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master


Out of a variety of spheres in which scholars perform research, applied analysis occupies an important place. In 1968, Baer, Wolf, and Risley identified seven dimensions of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Baer et al. (1968) argued that there was more to the difference between basic and applied research than merely “discovering” and “applying” knowledge (p. 91). Hence, the authors singled out the following qualities of ABA: applied, behavioral, analytic, technological, conceptually systematic, effective, and generalizable (Baer et al., 1968).

According to these characteristics, ABA focuses only on those variables which can be utilized to improve the analyzed behavior. On the contrary, non-applied research can be related to any variables related to behavior (Baer et al., 1968). At present, some scholars believe that Baer et al.’s (1968) framework is “a bottleneck” hindering crucial problems to receive “adequate attention” (Critchfield & Reed, 2017, p. 23). Still, the seven dimensions serve as a relevant basis for evaluating whether a study is behavior analytic or not, which is an essential skill to master for an ABA professional.

The Analysis of Articles

Out of the two articles under analysis, the one written by Krentz, Miltenberger, and Valbuena (2016) seems to correspond to all the ABA characteristics, whereas the study by Marsic, Berman, Barry, and McCloskey, M. S. (2014) is not behavior analytic. The rationale behind such a decision is that research by Krenz et al. (2016) contains more ABA dimensions than that by Marsic et al. (2014). Further analysis will outline the presence and absence of ABA elements in both studies.

An ABA Study

The article by Krentz et al. (2016) is applied since the behavior of interest reflected in it bears social significance (Falcomata, 2015). Apart from considerable physical complications, the refusal from walking leads to social isolation and the lack of communication. Hence, the problem of increasing walking in patients with intellectual disabilities, to which Krenz et al.’s (2016) study is dedicated, is an applied behavior.

The next ABA dimension is behavioral, which is also present in Krenz et al.’s (2016) research since, as Falcomata (2015) notes, only directly observable behavior can count towards ABA. The analytic nature of the article is demonstrated by the presence of independent and dependent variables (Falcomata, 2015). The independent variable in Krenz et al.’s (2016) study is token reinforcement, whereas the dependent one is walking. The research is technological since its authors provide a detailed description of procedures (Falcomata, 2015).

The study is conceptually systematic due to being based on reinforcement. The effectiveness of the article is in a valid experimental design (Falcomata, 2015). Krenz et al. (2016) have employed the ABAB approach, consisting of a baseline, treatment measurement, withdrawal of treatment, and its re-introduction. Finally, the study’s findings are generalizable since a behavioral intervention can be applied in different settings by various caregivers (Falcomata, 2015). Particularly, a token-reinforcement program may be used for other age groups and patients with other conditions.

A Non-ABA Study

The article by Marsic et al. (2014) lacks some of the ABA dimensions. It is not behavioral since it utilizes such an indirect measure as self-report (Falcomata, 2015). Also, the study is not conceptually systematic or effective due to the use of statistical procedures (Falcomata, 2015). Finally, Marsic et al.’s (2014) research lacks generality since its gains cannot be applied in other settings. Still, it is necessary to notice that the article possesses some of the ABA features. It is applied (self-injurious behavior is significant for the people under analysis), analytic (there is a relation between the dependent and independent variables), and technological (an accurate procedure description is given).


The analysis of two articles has allowed singling out disparities between ABA and non-ABA studies. The skill of differentiating between the two is crucial for an ABA professional. In applied behavior research, it is necessary to put emphasis on the social significance of the study, as well as on its applicability in various settings. While some may consider the seven dimensions as a barrier to illuminating important issues, the classification is a valuable measure of applied studies.


Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis1. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1(1), 91–97. Web.

Critchfield, T. S., & Reed, D. D. (2017). The fuzzy concept of applied behavior analysis research. The Behavior Analyst, 40(1), 123–159. Web.

Falcomata, T. S. (2015). Defining features of applied behavior analysis. In H. S. Roane, J. L. Ringdahl, & T. S. Falcomata (Eds.), Clinical and organizational applications of applied behavior analysis (pp. 1–18). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Krentz, H., Miltenberger, R., & Valbuena, D. (2016). Using token reinforcement to increase walking for adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 49(4), 745–750. Web.

Marsic, A., Berman, M. E., Barry, T. D., & McCloskey, M. S. (2014). The relationship between intentional self-injurious behavior and the loudness dependence of auditory evoked potential in research volunteers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 71(3), 250–257. Web.