The Relationship Between Applied Behavior Analysis
and Positive Behavior Support
University of Nevada-Reno
Dr. Williams PSY 407
The Relationship Between ABA and PBS
The Relationship Between Applied Behavior Analysis and Positive Behavior Support There are many problematic behaviors within our culture today. Many of these behaviors stem from issues that are related to on-time or off-timed developmental issues, substance abuse, brain injuries, and biological complications along with many other factors. Problematic behaviors are becoming increasingly common and can have a negative affect on every level of our society, from the macro level down to the micro level. One only needs to turn on the nightly news to see how someone’s behavioral issues have a negative effect on our community. Each and every one of us can think of a time or an interaction in which someone displaying some sort of a problematic behavior had a direct effect on our life. As someone who strives to work with at-risk adolescents who have behavioral issues, I was very interested in the process of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Within this filed, I discovered another approach that many believe grew out of ABA, Positive Behavior Support, (PBS). Through these two styles of behavior modification techniques, there is much hope for studying and treating a wide variety of problematic behaviors.
The field of Positive Behavior Support is a rather new discipline within the field of behavioral intervention. The contributions of PBS are already being integrated into our society in various levels, such as its integration into our schools to address problematic behaviors of students. This field is rich in its potential to contribute directly to our communities and can be applied to individual behaviors as well. Although there are great potential positive outcomes of PBS, the discipline itself is often being pitted against ABA, rather than viewed as a subsidiary of the field. In viewing recent articles regarding ABA and PBS, I found that the theme of us versus them continues to rage rampant within the field of Psychology and Behavior Modification.
The Relationship Between ABA and PBS
The first article, Positive Behavior Support and Applied Behavior Analysis: A Familial Alliance (Dunlap, Carr, Horner, Zarcone and Schwartz, 2008) reviews the relationship between the two approaches. The authors attempt to clarify some of the confusion between the two and point out the explicit distinctions that make them different. Both disciplines share many similarities; Todd Risley, is a prominent cofounder of both ABA as well as PBS. The fact that PBS evolved from ABA insures that there is much overlap between the two. One of the key components that Dunlap et al. point out is that PBS “grew from the scientific and procedural foundations of applied behavior analysis (ABA), benefiting, in particular, from the technologies of functional assessment and analysis” (2008,p.683). They point out that the definition of PBS continues to evolve as research supports its successes. ABA and PBS share many emphases; empiricism, conceptual foundations, research methods, assessment and intervention procedures and the focus on pragmatism and utility. “Working together, ABA and PBS have the potential to apply a science that is effective in meeting the needs of people with diverse abilities and challenges in complex naturalistic settings” (Dunlap et al., 2008, p.688). While the disciplines have much in common, the authors point out the emphases that make them distinctly different. Within PBS, the effort lies in making the strategies more effective in multiple levels, complicated situations and larger scales of implementation (Dunlap et al., 2008). ABA instead focuses on the direct environmental contingencies that are contributing to one’s behavior. PBS incorporates additional...