Keep Pressing the Lever


It is somewhat ironic that what is arguably a science of influence (behavior analysis) has not been more effective at influencing the adoption rate of a science of influence

Behavior analysis has made a name for itself in the areas of developmental disabilities, mental health, and autism. Though less known in other fields, behavior analysis has a history of thriving in business, healthcare, education, animal training, and climate change. Where ever behavior is occurring, behavior analysts are found putting the tried-and-true tools of our science to work. 

Technical to Practical

Richard Foxx was a proponent of disseminating science through easy-to-understand language that grabs a lay audience. For us to have a far-reaching impact, we may need to lean on different ways of communicating our message. Foxx once said, "Our words affect our image and hence our ability to relate to others." This is so true for connecting with communities who don’t use or find our terminology meaningful—remember, behavior analytic verbiage is unlikely to incite joy for people outside of ABA. Our lingo is highly technical, and sometimes we forget how our scientific and precise use of colloquial words (reinforcement, motivation) can cause confusion. We are pros at conceptual revision: inventing a new word or revising how a word is used (Harzem & Miles, 1978). Keep this in mind and always work to pair behavior analytic verbiage with the language of the customer.

What Can You Do About It?

In his continuing education course, Why Be a Behavior Analyst?, Dr. William Heward gives us steps toward narrowing the gap between our current status in the world and future potential. Check out Dr. Heward's course and find how you can keep pressing the lever.

why be a behavior analyst




Detrich, R. (2018). Rethinking dissemination: Storytelling as a part of the repertoire. Perspectives of Behavior Sciences. 2018; 41:541-549. doi: 10.1007/s406140180160y.

Foxx, R.M. (1996). Translating the covenant: the behavior analyst as ambassador and translator. The Behavior Analyst. 1996;19:147–161. doi: 10.1007/BF03393162. 

Harzem, P. & Miles, T.R. (1978). Conceptual issues in operant psychology. New York: Wiley.


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