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Target Behavior: Definition & Example

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  • 0:01 What Is a Target Behavior?
  • 1:04 Characteristics
  • 2:57 Additional Examples
  • 3:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

In this lesson, we will discuss target behaviors. Learn more about target behaviors, how they are used in the field of applied behavioral analysis, and criteria.

What is a Target Behavior?

Leo is a twelve-year-old who has been having difficulty in school. Leo's teacher reported to his mother that Leo is often angry and disruptive in class. Leo calls other children bad names, refuses to sit in his seat for longer than five minutes, and refuses to follow classroom rules when trying to get the teacher's attention. Leo's mother is concerned about his behavior and decides that Leo would benefit from applied behavior analysis, which is a discipline in which systematic interventions are used to create positive and meaningful behavioral changes. One of the first steps in behavioral analysis is to identify the target behaviors. So then, what exactly are target behaviors?

Characteristics

A target behavior is any behavior that has been chosen or 'targeted' for change. A target behavior should be positive. That means that the target behavior should focus on what you would like the child to do as opposed to what you do not want the child to do. For example, instead of saying 'Leo will not get out of his seat,' an appropriate target behavior would be 'Leo will remain in his seat for at least thirty minutes.'

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