ON THE ORIGIN AND FUNCTIONS OF THE TERM FUNCTIONAL ANALYSIS

Authors


Please address correspondence to Henry D. Schlinger, Jr., Department of Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles, 5151 State University Dr., Los Angeles, California 90032 (e-mail: hschlin@calstatela.edu) or Matthew P. Normand, Department of Psychology, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, California 95211 (e-mail: mnormand@pacific.edu).

Abstract

In this essay, we note that although Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982) established the standard framework for conducting functional analyses of problem behavior, the term functional analysis was probably first used in behavior analysis by B. F. Skinner in 1948. We also remind readers that a functional analysis is really an experimental analysis, words that were contained in the title of Skinner's first book, The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis (1938). We further describe how Skinner initially applied the concept of functional analysis to an understanding of verbal behavior, and we suggest that the same tactic be applied to the verbal behavior of behavior analysts, in the present case, to the term functional analysis.

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