When problem behavior such as self-injury, tantrums, aggression, or property destruction occur, observers often lament, “The behavior seems to occur for no reason; it just comes out of nowhere.” The actual scientific evidence on severe problem behavior suggests that more often than not, the behavior is quite predictable and orderly. The presenter reviews five groups of evidence to suggest that problem behavior is predictable and orderly: 1. During a functional analysis, it tends to occur under certain conditions and not others, 2. The “matching law” almost perfectly predicts the occurrence of behavior, 3. The behavior stops when it is no longer reinforced, 4. The behavior stops when the motivation to engage in behavior is removed, and 5. Alternative and less dangerous forms of behavior can be readily shaped to replace problem behavior. Based on this information, the presenter outlines a model for behavioral assessment and intervention.
About the Speaker
Timothy R. Vollmer received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1992. From 1992 until 1996 he was on the psychology faculty at Louisiana State University. From 1996 to 1998 he was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He returned to the University of Florida in 1998 and is now a Professor of Psychology. His primary area of research is applied behavior analysis, with emphases in developmental disabilities, reinforcement schedules, and parenting. He has published over 130 articles and book chapters related to behavior analysis. He was the recipient of the 1996 B.F. Skinner New Researcher award from the American Psychological Association (APA). He received another APA award in August, 2004, for significant contributions to applied behavior analysis. He is also currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.