Descriptive Analysis

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Definition: This is a general term referring to both a procedure (directly observing the behavior as it occurs in the natural environment), and the outcome (a statement or hypothesis of the variable(s) setting the occasion for and maintaining the occurrence of a particular behavior).

The primary elements of a descriptive analysis are the three (A-B-C)  and sometimes four term contingency (when Motivational Operations are also considered).

2. A –  The Antecedent Condition(s):

3. B – The Behavior of interest (also known as the target behavior)

4. C- The Consequence that follows the occurrence of the behavior(any environmental change that occurs following

Observational data are collected on these elements and used to develop an hypothesis of function. This hypothesis can be used to develop a behavior intervention plan or as a basis for a more formal analysis of function (i.e Trial based analysis,or analog analysis)


General Guidelines:

1. Multiple observations should be conducted so that a representative sample of the behavior its antecedents and consequences are seen. This may include Continuous observation  and or time sampling

2. Descriptive analyses should focus on observable measurable behavior not subjective characterizations of behavior. Care should be taken to make the observations as objective as possible.

3.Conclusions from a descriptive analysis should be viewed with skepticism until the results are empirically verified.

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