Applied Behavior Analysis: Chapter 2 Review

October 14, 2019 No Comments

This week on my studying journey for the BCBA Exam I will be writing a short overview (I thought it was going to be an overview, instead it is a review of the key terms of the chapter since their were a lot of them) of Chapter 2 in the Applied Behavior Analysis 3rd Edition Book by Cooper,Heron, and Heward. As I have began going over the chapters in the book I noticed that some of the key terms have changed from each edition of the book. Just be aware that key terms were added to chapters or taken out. So let’s begin.

Chapter 2 is called Basic Concepts and Principals. All of the information that I am writing about comes from chapter 2 pages 25-46. In this chapter there are 56 key terms. I think for this overview I am going to work on explainging each of the defintions for these terms according to how the author explained them. I will go over each term according to how they appear in the book.


Behavior is basically the activity of living organisms or in essence to human behavior, everything people do. According to B.F. Skinner (1938) behavior is the movement of an organism or its part in a frame of reference provided by the organism or by various external objects or fields. The definition the book uses is by Johnson and Pennypacker and their book entiled Strategies and Tactics. They describe behavior as a portion of an organizm’s interactions with its environment that involves movement of some part of the organism (2009, p.31). So behavior is a portion of the organism’s interaction with the environment . (Page 26 of Chapter 2)


When describing the word behavior, you will usually see the word together in a class of responses that may share certain funtions. When you read about responses you are reading about a specific instance of behavior. The definition the books gives of response is that it is an action of an organism’s effector. (Page 27 of Chapter 2)

Response Class

By taking a grooup of responses that have the function (which means each response has the same effect on the environment, then this would be a response class.  (Page 27 of Chapter 2)


In the field of ABA, the term repertoir references all the behaviors a person can do. It is like a collection of all the information the person knows, but intead of knowledge it is their behavior. It can also be described as a set of behaviors a person can do for a particular task. (Page 27 of Chapter 2)


All behaviors occur within an enviroment. An environment is defineds as a full set of physical circumstances in which the organism exists. It is a complex, dynamic universe of events that differ from instance to instance (Johnsons and Pennypacker, 2009). This means that the environment is the physical setting and circumstances in which the organism or referenced part of the organism exists. ( Page 27 of Chapter 2)


Since the enviroment is so complex, some aspects of the enviroment has been described as a stimulus or event. A stimulus is defined in the book as an energy change that affects an organism through its receptor cells. (Page 27 of Chapter 2)

Stimulus Class

 A stimulus can be described by their physical features, when they occur and by their effects on behavior. This means that any group of stimuli share a predetermined set of common elements in one or more dimensions. In a stimulus class it can have formal dimensions of stimuli or temporal locus of stimuli. Formal dimensions describe, measure, and minupulate the stimuli based on size, color, intensity, etc. and the temporal locus has behavioral functions of stimulus changes. Stimuli can also be social and nonsocial (Page 28 of Chapter 2)


An antecedent is used a lot in the field of aba and is described as stimulus changes that occur prior to the behavior. This follows under the topic of classifying and describing stimuli and is part of the temporal locus of stimuli (Page 28 of Chapter 2)


A consequence is a stimulus change that follows a behavior. This follows under the topic of classifying and describing stimuli  and is part of the temporal locus of stimuli (Page 28 of Chapter 2)

Socially Mediated Contingency

Socially Mediated Contingency also falls under temporal locus of stimuli. This means that another person is presenting an antecedent stimulus and or the consequence for the behavior. When looking at stimulus changes they can have one or both of two kinds of basic functions or effects on behavior:

  1. An immediate but temporary effect of increasing or decreasing the current frequency of the behavior
  2. A delayed but relatively permanent effect in terms of the frequency of that type of behavior in the future

 (Page 28 of Chapter 2)


A reflus is a stimulus-response relation consisting of an antecedent stimulus and a respondent beahvior it elicits.  It can be rought out by the stimulus that precedes it, such as something in your eye elicits eye blink.  Reflux falls under respondent behavior (Page 28 of Chapter 2)

Respondent Behavior

A behavior that is elicited by antecedent stimuli is known as respondant behavior. Respondent behavior is induced by a stimulus that precedes or comes before the behavior. The example the authors used was  bright light in the eyes (antecedent stimulus) will elicit pupil contraction (respondant). (Page 30 of Chapter 2)


This is also known as an adjustment and will occur when a person’s repertoire has been changed such as short and long term reinforcers are maximized and short and long term punishers are minimized. (Page 30 of Chapter 2)

Respondent conditioning

Respondant conditioning is a process  where formaly neutral stimuli can acquire the ability to elicit respondants throungh a learning process. A stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure in which a neutral stimulus is presented with an unconditioned stimulus until the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits the conditioned response (Pavlov – dog salivation)   (Page 30 of Chapter 2)

Stimulus-stimulus pairing

A procedure in which two stimuli are presented at the same time, usually repeatedly for a number of trials, which often results in one stimulus acquiring the function of the other stimulus. (Page 31 of Chapter 2)

Unconditioned stimulus (US)

A stimulus change that elicits respondent behavior without any prior learning. (Page 31 of Chapter 2)

Neutral stimulus (NS)

A stimulus change that does not elicit respondent behavior. (Page 31 of Chapter 2)

Conditioned Stimulus (CS)

A formerly neutral stimulus change that elicits respondent behavior only after it has been paired with an unconditioned stimulus or another CS. (Page 31 of Chapter 2)

Conditioned Reflex

A learned stimulus-response functional relation consisting of an antecedent stimulus and the response it elicits. (Page 31 of Chapter 2)

Respondent Extinction

The repeated presentation of a conditioned stimulus in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus; the CS gradually loses its ability to illicit the conditioned response. (Page 31 of Chapter 2)

Higher-Order Conditioning

Development of a conditioned reflex by pairing a neutral stimulus with a conditioned stimulus. (Page 32 of Chapter 2)

Operant behavior

Behavior that is selected, maintained, and brought under stimulus control as a function of its consequences. (Page 32 of Chapter 2)


A theory that all forms of life naturally and continually evolve as a result of the interaction between function and the survival value of that function. Operant selection by consequences is the conceptual and empirical foundation of behavior analysis. (Page 33 of Chapter 2)


The history of the development of an individual organism during its lifetime.  (Page 33 of Chapter 2)


The history of the natural evolution of a species. (Page 33 of Chapter 2)

Operant Conditioning

The basic process by which operant learning occurs; consequences result in increased or decreased frequency of the same type of behavior under similar motivational and environmental conditions in the future. (Page 34 of Chapter 2)


A stimulus change that increases the future frequency of behavior that immediately precedes it. (Page 34 of Chapter 2)

Automaticity Of Reinforcement

Refers to the fact that behavior is modified by its consequences irrespective of the person’s awareness; a person does not have to recognize the relation between her behavior and a reinforcing consequence for reinforcement to “work”.

 (Page 36 of Chapter 2)


Occurs when a stimulus change immediately follows a response and increases the future frequency of that type of behavior in similar conditions. (Page 36 of Chapter 2)

Positive reinforcement

Occurs when a behavior is followed immediately by the presentation of a stimulus that increases the future frequency of the behavior in similar conditions. 

(Page 36 of Chapter 2)

Negative Reifnforcement

A stimulus whose termination functions as reinforcement. (Page 36 of Chapter 2)

Aversive Stimulus

An unpleasant or noxious stimulus; more technically, a stimulus change or condition that functions (a) to evoke a behavior that has terminated it in the past, (b) as a punisher when presented following behavior (c) as a reinforcer when withdrawn following behavior. (Page 36 of Chapter 2)


The discontinuing of a reinforcement of a previously reinforced behavior; the primary effect is a decrease in the frequency of the behavior and ultimately ceases to occur. 

(Page 37 of Chapter 2)


Occurs when a stimulus change immediately follows a response and decreases the future frequency of that type of behavior in similar conditions. (Page 37 of Chapter 2)

Positive Punishment

A response followed immediately by the presentation of a stimulus that decreases the future frequency of the behavior. (Page 37 of Chapter 2)

Negative Punishment

A response behavior followed immediately by the removal of a stimulus (or a decrease in the intensity of the stimulus) that results in similar responses occurring less often. (Page 37 of Chapter 2)

Unconditioned reinforcer

A stimulus change that increases the frequency of any behavior that immediately precedes it irrespective of the organisms learning history with the stimulus. 

(Page 38 of Chapter 2)

Motivating operation

An environmental variable that (a) alters (increases or decreases) the reinforcing or punishing effectiveness of some stimulus, object, or event; (b) alters the current frequency of all behavior that has been reinforced or punished by that stimulus object or event. (Page 38 of Chapter 2)


The state of an organism with respect to how much time has elapsed since it has consumed or contacted a particular type of reinforcer; also a procedure for increasing the effectiveness of a reinforcer (withholding). (Page 38 of Chapter 2)

Unconditioned Punisher

A stimulus change that decreases the frequency of any behavior that immediately precedes it irrespective of the organisms learning history with the stimulus.

 (Page 38 of Chapter 2)

Conditioned Reinforcers

A stimulus change that functions as a reinforcer because of prior pairing with one or more other reinforcers.  (Page 38 of Chapter 2)

Conditioned Punshiment

A previously neutral stimulus change that functions as a punisher because of prior pairing with one or more other punishers.  (Page 38 of Chapter 2)

Discriminated Operant

An operant that occurs more frequently under some antecedent conditions than others.

(Page 40 of Chapter 2)

Stimulus Control

A situation in which the latency, frequency, duration, or amplitude of a behavior is altered by the presence or absence of an antecedent stimulus (when a behavior is emitted more often in the presence of an antecedent than in its absence because of its history of reinforcement). (Page 40 of Chapter 2)

Discriminative Stimulus

A stimulus in the presence of which responses of some type have been reinforced and in the absence of which the same type of responses have occurred and not been reinforced. Or if a “correct” answer or response is given, it is reinforced, if incorrect then it is not reinforced. (Page 40 of Chapter 2)

Three-Term Contingencies

The basic unit of analysis in the analysis of operant conditioning; antecedent, behavior, consequence. (Page 40 of Chapter 2)


Refers to dependent and/or temporal relations between operant behavior and its controlling variables. (Page 41 of Chapter 2)


Describes reinforcement (or punishment) that is delivered only after the target behavior has occurred. (Page 41 of Chapter 2)

Rule-Governed Behavior

Behavior controlled by a rule; enables human behavior to come under the indirect control of temporally remote or improbable but potentially significant consequences. 

(Page 42 of Chapter 2)

Contingency-Shaped Behavior

Behavior acquired by direct experience with contingencies. (Page 42 of Chapter 2)

Joint Control

A phenomenon in which two separate, but interrelated forms of a person’s own verbal behavior, combine to acquire stimulus control of a response that would not have occurred in the absence of either. (Page 42 of Chapter 2)

History of Reinforcement

Referring to all of a person’s learning experiences and more specifically to past conditioning with respect to particular response classes or aspects of a person’s repertoire. (Page 42 of Chapter 2)


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