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Behavioral Assessment

  1. William H. O'Brien,
  2. Carmen Oemig

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0118

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

O'Brien, W. H. and Oemig, C. 2010. Behavioral Assessment. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Bowling Green State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Behavioral assessment is an approach to the measurement and understanding of human behavior that is founded on several fundamental assumptions. These assumptions also differentiate behavioral assessment from other assessment approaches such as personality assessment and projective assessment. The first and most important assumption is functional contextualism (Hayes, 2004; Haynes & O'Brien, 2000; O'Brien & Schwetschenau, 2008). This assumption posits that target behaviors (cognitive, emotional, and overt-motor responses that are the focus of treatment) are not randomly emitted, but occur as a function of context variables that can be thought of as a collection of causal influences. Some of these causal influences arise from internal experiences (e.g., thoughts and feelings) while other causal influences arise from external sources such as interpersonal interactions and nonsocial environmental events (e.g., temperature).


  • case formulation;
  • functional analysis;
  • assessment;
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy