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BIO

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Terms, Acronyms and Concepts

Terms are in alphabetical order. Each contains an official definition from the cited source and a plain language definition. 

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Abolishing Operation

A stimulus event that temporarily decreases the effectiveness of a stimulus as a reinforcer (contrast with establishing operation).

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A factor that decreases interest in a reinforcer (e.g., if one is very full, a snickers bar will not be appealing)

Agency

Bandura, 1977

An individual’s belief in their ability to exercise control over their own, independent functioning and external environment.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

An individual’s perception that their behavior can effect their environment.

Antecedent

An event that occurs immediately prior to a target behavior, which may or may not have been confirmed as functionally related to the behavior

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Describes what happens before behavior, either immediately or in the more distant past

Behavior

Any measurably, neurally-mediated reaction of a body part to stimulation

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Plain Language Definition:

An action. Within Relational Frame Theory and radical behaviorism, behaviors can include thoughts, communication (verbal and non-verbal), valuing (holding something as important), and other behaviors not typically thought of as such.

Choice

An act or instance of choosing; selection

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Making a decision between two or more possibilities

Choice Based Communication™ (CBC)

Choice-Based Communication™ (CBC) is a learner-centered framework based on a behavior analytic approach to developing two-way communication, to better understand the animals we work with and in turn develop more efficient and effective methods of modifying behavior that also serve to meet their needs.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A system where an animal learns to use specific behaviors to communicate their wants and needs to their handlers, based on the premise that an increase in agency increases distress tolerance and lowers frustration. Ex: a reactive dog learns behaviors that will start, stop, and turn their handler to control their proximity to triggers.

Collaborative Care

A method of approaching husbandry tasks that moves from consent to assent, provides the animal with options beyond yes/no, biases toward the opt-out, and ultimately seeks to cultivate curiosity and agency.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

An approach to care tasks that significantly increases the amount of control the animal has over the interaction, beyond what is standard in cooperative care.

Consequence

Postcedent (after behavior) stimulus change that is functionally related to the behavior it follows and may include reinforcement or punishment

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

What happens after a behavior that either lessens or increases the likelihood the behavior will be repeated (usually falls into reinforcement or punishment)

Constructivism

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

The theoretical perspective, central to the work of Jean Piaget, that people actively build their perception of the world and interpret objects and events that surround them in terms of what they already know. Thus, their current state of knowledge guides processing, substantially influencing how (and what) new information is acquired. Also called constructionism.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A theory of learning that says learners are actively creating (constructing) knowledge rather than passively receiving it.

Contingency

A functional relation or set of functional relations between a response class and a class of antecedent and/or consequent stimulus changes (broadly, describes the relationship between antecedents, behaviors, and consequences: Antecedent - behavior is a two-term contingency; antecedent - behavior - consequence is a three-term contingency)

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

An if-then statement between antecedent, behavior, consequence, and other factors in the chain of events around a behavior, usually used to identify the function of (reason for) a behavior

Desensitization

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

A reduction in emotional or physical reactivity to stimuli that is achieved by such means as deconditioning techniques. 

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Reducing fear of a stimulus by introducing it at an intensity where the dog is not uncomfortable, and slowly increasing intensity of the stimulus over time, always at a level the dog is comfortable with. Ex: playing fireworks sounds at a very low volume and slowly increasing the volume over time.

Distal (antecedent)

Situated away from the point of origin or attachment

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Part of the antecedent that goes further back in time and/or isn’t observable (ex: pain, stress from events earlier in the day)

Establishing Operation

A stimulus event that temporary establishes (increases) the effectiveness of a stimulus as a reinforcer (contrast with abolishing operation)

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A factor that increases interest in a reinforcer (e.g., if one is thirsty, water will be more appealing than otherwise)

Extrinsic Reinforcer

A reinforcer contrived and mediated socially (not generated intrinsically by the behavior) (contrast with intrinsic reinforcer)

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Something valuable to the dog that is not inherently related to the behavior (e.g., being given a toy or cookie for a trick)

Function

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

The use or purpose of something.

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Plain Language Definition:

How a particular behavior accesses reinforcement.

Functional Assessment

A systematic process by which a target behavior and its controlling variables are identified, which provides the data from which a contingency management plan is designed and implemented

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A formal analysis of the ABCs used to create a plan for modifying and/or managing behavior

Functional Reinforcer

The reinforcer that has historically maintained the target behavior (as opposed to some other stimulus that may act as a reinforcer but has not been the maintaining reinforcer for that behavior)

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

The reason the dog is engaging in the behavior (e.g., a dog that barks at strangers so that the strangers move away - the barking is functionally reinforced by socially mediated escape - or the barking serves to create distance between the dog and the strangers, so the dog keeps barking to make strangers move away - the bark is being functionally reinforced by the increase in distance after they bark)

Habituation

A temporary decline in the magnitude of an unconditioned response upon repeated presentation of the unconditioned stimulus.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Lessening of an innate response resulting from repeated exposure to the stimulus. Getting used to something.

Intraverbal

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

A verbal response occasioned by a preceding verbal stimulus. It illustrates chaining in the domain of verbal behavior.

Official Definition:

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In communication, any response to prior communication (a reply)

Intrinsic Reinforcer

A reinforcer generated directly by the behavior (rather than being arbitrarily selected and mediated by another organism) (contrast with extrinsic reinforcer)

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Something valuable to the dog that occurs naturally after the behavior without additional action from the handler (e.g., a dog jumps on the counter and accesses a desired food item)

Learner-centeredness

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

Learner centered is the perspective that couples a focus on individual learners--their heredity, experience, perspectives, backgrounds, talents, interests, capacities, and needs--with a focus on learning--the best available knowledge about learning and how it occurs and about teaching practices that are most effective in promoting the highest levels of motivation, learning, and achievement for all learners. This dual focus then forms and drives educational decision making. Learner centered is a reflection in practice of the Learner-Centered Psychological Principles--in the programs, practices, policies, and people that support learning for all.

The Principles apply to all learners, in and outside of school, young and old. Learner-centered is also related to the beliefs, characteristics, dispositions, and practices of teachers - practices primarily created by the teacher. When teachers and their practices function from an understanding of the knowledge base delineated in the Principles, they

(a) include learners in decisions about how and what they learn and how that learning is assessed;
(b) value each learner's unique perspectives;
(c) respect and accommodate individual differences in learners' backgrounds, interests, abilities, and experiences; and
(d) treat learners as co-creators and partners in the teaching and learning process."

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

An approach to learning that emphasizes the individual learner’s needs and motivations, and that de-emphasizes the teacher’s expertise and goals.

Mand

A type of verbal operant that is reinforced by the compliance of the listener.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A directive communication that indicates a want or desire; reinforced by the listener granting the request.

Motivating Operation

A stimulus event that causes conditions within the body that alter (a) the effectiveness of stimuli as reinforcers and (b) the current rate of all behaviors that have been reinforced by that stimulus (establishing and abolishing operations are types of motivating operations)

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Event that encourages or discourages a behavior

Proximal (antecedent)

Situated toward the point of origin or attachment

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Plain Language Definition:

Part of the antecedent that includes immediate and observable events immediately preceding a behavior (ex: trigger appears)

Punishment

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

The process in which the relationship, or contingency, between a response and some stimulus or circumstance results in the response becoming less probable.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

Something aversive to the animal that decreases the rate of behavior. Importantly, what is punishing varies from individual to individual.

Reinforcement

Dictionary of Psychology, American Psychological Association

A process in which the frequency or probability of a response is increased by a dependent relationship, or contingency, with a stimulus or circumstance (the reinforcer).

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A reward for a behavior that increases the rate of behavior. Importantly, what is reinforcing varies from individual to individual and by circumstance.

Relational Frame Theory

A theory that suggests the main building block of language and cognition is relating - the ability to flexibly respond to links between one thing and another, generating new connections in the process.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A theory that views communication (verbal or non-verbal) as an operant process that builds upon itself based on social reinforcement to create our understanding of the world and ourselves.

Response Class

A set of individual responses that share a common eliciting stimulus, or consequential effect on the environment (response classes are defined functionally and so the individual responses that make up a response class may differ topographically).

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

A set of behaviors associated with achieving a particular outcome, varies dog to dog. Ex: barking, pawing, jumping could all be part of a response class that serves to get a human’s attention.

Reverse Mimicry

Offering an animal the chance to control our behavior by copying what they do. Colloquially, having our dogs teach us tricks.

Official Definition:

Plain Language Definition:

n/a

Acronyms

ABCs

Antecedent Behavior Consequence

CBC

Choice Based Communication™

DEI

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

RFT

Relational Frame Theory

SEC

Sudden Environmental Contrast

SepAnx

Separation Anxiety

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