ABC Behavior Analysis: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Would you like to understand why your students behave in certain ways? This lesson will define the ABCs of behavior analysis with real-world examples to help you better understand student actions.

What Is Behavior Analysis?

Johnny screams and throws himself to the ground every time the school bell rings! You can't turn off the bell. What can you do to help Johnny? You can use behavior analysis.

Behavior analysis is the scientific study of behaviors. In this process behaviors are looked at from multiple perspectives and influential factors are considered to determine the cause of the behavior. Once the cause, or function, of the behavior is determined, you can manipulate different factors that affect the behavior. Let us take a closer look at the factors that can affect behaviors by discussing the ABCs of behavior analysis.

ABC Examples

Antecedent: Driver hears seat belt warning sound.

Behavior: Driver puts on seat belt.

Consequence: Driver avoids a possible injury and ticket.

Antecedent: Teacher asks student to clean up area.

Behavior: Student picks up supplies and puts them away.

Consequence: Teacher verbally praises student by saying, ''Thank you for cleaning up your area.''

A for Antecedent

The antecedent is what happens before the behavior occurs. Antecedents are sometimes also referred to as triggers. These are factors that increase the likeliness that a specific behavior will occur.

Some examples of antecedents or triggers are:

  • Being told to start or stop an activity/task
  • Working with a particular student/staff member
  • Being presented with a non-preferred task
  • Being told no
  • Transitioning between activities/tasks
  • Level of noise/sounds
  • Lighting
  • Change in schedule/routine

Factors to look for when determining the antecedent include:

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