B-1: Define and provide examples of behavior, response, and response class ©

Target Terms: Behavior, Response, Response Class 


Definition: An organism’s interaction with the environment. (“Dead man’s test” refers to the fact that a behavior is anything a dead person cannot do. Examples: breathing, walking, crying, reading, etc.)

Example in everyday context: Opening a door is an example of a behavior because it is an interactive condition between an organism (you) and the environment (the door). 

Example in clinical context: A child is handed tokens and puts them on a token economy board for later exchange.

Example in supervision/consultation context: During supervision, your supervisor asks you to complete a quiz on Chapter 1 of the Cooper text. You pick up your pencil to begin your quiz.

Why it matters: Behavior analysts have to have a proficient understanding of what constitutes a behavior in order to accurately identify, assess and treat socially significant and target behaviors. 


Definition: A specific instance of behavior. 

Example in everyday context: You are walking down the steps and you trip over your cat. You yell “aahh!” The response in this instance is you yelling “aahh!”

Example in clinical context: A direct support professional is walking next to a client. The client reaches out, perhaps to touch or grab the staff. The staff member quickly darts out of the way. The behavior of darting out of the way is a response, as is the reach from the client.  

Example in supervision/consultation context: A behavior analyst walks into a school and smiles at the front office staff person when they make eye contact. Smiling is a response.   

Why it matters: Specific instances of behavior, when targeted for intervention, must be accurately defined and measured. 

Response Class 

Definition: A group of responses that produce the same effect on the environment. (In other words, several behaviors that have the same function.)

Example in everyday context: Sending a text, messaging a person on social media, and calling a person on your cell phone is a group of responses that may produce the same effect on the environment- you reach the person you wanted to connect with (socially mediated positive reinforcement).

Example in clinical context: A patient engages in head banging, screaming, and hitting staff which all produce the same effect on the environment (escape from their non-preferred activities).

Example in supervision/consultation context: A supervisor provides feedback to their supervisee in the form of vocal and written feedback. Both forms of feedback produce the same effect on the environment, if they both change the supervisee’s performance in a similar way. 

Why it matters: Different responses may have the same effect on the environment. In other words, “I do different things, but the feedback I get from the environment for those things is the same.”) In order to provide excellent services, it is often critical to accurately identify responses that have the same effect on the environment.

%d bloggers like this: