• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of jabaJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis Web SiteSubscriber LoginJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior Web SiteSubscription InformationInformation for AuthorsJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis Web SiteJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis Web Site
J Appl Behav Anal. 1982 Winter; 15(4): 477–492.
PMCID: PMC1308296

The integrity of independent variables in behavior analysis.


Establishing a functional relationship between the independent and the dependent variable is the primary focus of applied behavior analysis. Accurate and reliable description and observation of both the independent and dependent variables are necessary to achieve this goal. Although considerable attention has been focused on ensuring the integrity of the dependent variable in the operant literature, similar effort has not been directed at ensuring the integrity of the independent variable. Inaccurate descriptions of the application of the independent variable may threaten the reliability and validity of operant research data. A survey of articles in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis demonstrated that the majority of articles published do not use any assessment of the actual occurrence of the independent variable and a sizable minority do not provide operational definitions of the independent variable. The feasibility and utility of ensuring the integrity of the independent variable is described.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (2.2M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Baer DM, Wolf MM, Risley TR. Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. J Appl Behav Anal. 1968 Spring;1(1):91–97. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bernal ME, Klinnert MD, Schultz LA. Outcome evaluation of behavioral parent training and client-centered parent counseling for children with conduct problems. J Appl Behav Anal. 1980 Winter;13(4):677–691. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bijou SW, Peterson RF, Ault MH. A method to integrate descriptive and experimental field studies at the level of data and empirical concepts. J Appl Behav Anal. 1968 Summer;1(2):175–191. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bornstein PH, Quevillon RP. The effects of a self-instructional package on overactive preschool boys. J Appl Behav Anal. 1976 Summer;9(2):179–188. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Carnine DW. Effects of two teacher-presentation rates on off-task behavior, answering correctly, and participation. J Appl Behav Anal. 1976 Summer;9(2):199–206. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dallemagne G, Richelle M. Titration schedule with rats in a restraining device. J Exp Anal Behav. 1970 May;13(3):339–348. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Donabedian A. Evaluating the quality of medical care. Milbank Mem Fund Q. 1966 Jul;44(3 Suppl):166–206. [PubMed]
  • Dorsey MF, Iwata BA, Ong P, McSween TE. Treatment of self-injurious behavior using a water mist: initial response suppression and generalization. J Appl Behav Anal. 1980 Summer;13(2):343–353. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Fleischman MJ. A replication of Patterson's "Intervention for boys with conduct problems". J Consult Clin Psychol. 1981 Jun;49(3):342–351. [PubMed]
  • Friedling C, O'Leary SG. Effects of self-instructional training on second- and third-grade hyperactive children: a failure to replicate. J Appl Behav Anal. 1979 Summer;12(2):211–219. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hartmann DP. Considerations in the choice of interobserver reliability estimates. J Appl Behav Anal. 1977 Spring;10(1):103–116. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hasazi JE, Hasazi SE. Effects of teacher attention on digit-reversal behavior in an elementary school child. J Appl Behav Anal. 1972 Summer;5(2):157–162. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hayes SC, Rincover A, Solnick JV. The technical drift of applied behavior analysis. J Appl Behav Anal. 1980 Summer;13(2):275–285. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hobbs SA, Moguin LE, Tyroler M, Lahey BB. Cognitive behavior therapy with children: has clinical utility been demonstrated? Psychol Bull. 1980 Jan;87(1):147–165. [PubMed]
  • Kazdin AE. The effect of vicarious reinforcement on attentive behavior in the classroom. J Appl Behav Anal. 1973 Spring;6(1):71–78. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kazdin AE. The influence of behavior preceding a reinforced response on behavior change in the classroom. J Appl Behav Anal. 1977 Summer;10(2):299–310. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kelly MB. A review of the observational data-collection and reliability procedures reported in The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. J Appl Behav Anal. 1977 Spring;10(1):97–101. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Mathews RM, Fawcett SB. Community applications of instructional technology: training low-income proctors. J Appl Behav Anal. 1977 Winter;10(4):747–754. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Milby JB. Modification of extreme social isolation by contingent social reinforcement. J Appl Behav Anal. 1970 Summer;3(2):149–152. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Nelson GL, Cone JD. Multiple-baseline analysis of a token economy for psychiatric inpatients. J Appl Behav Anal. 1979 Summer;12(2):255–271. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • O'leary KD, Kent RN, Kanowitz J. Shaping data collection congruent with experimental hypotheses. J Appl Behav Anal. 1975 Spring;8(1):43–51. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Patterson GR. Interventions for boys with conduct problems: multiple settings, treatments, and criteria. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1974 Aug;42(4):471–481. [PubMed]
  • Pinkston EM, Reese NM, Leblanc JM, Baer DM. Independent control of a pre-school child's aggression and peer interaction by contingent teacher attention. J Appl Behav Anal. 1973 Spring;6(1):115–124. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Porterfield JK, Herbert-Jackson E, Risley TR. Contingent observation: an effective and acceptable procedure for reducing disruptive behavior of young children in a group setting. J Appl Behav Anal. 1976 Spring;9(1):55–64. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Reisinger JJ. The treatment of "anxiety-depression" via positive reinforcement and response cost. J Appl Behav Anal. 1972 Summer;5(2):125–130. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Romanczyk RG, Kent RN, Diament C, O'leary KD. Measuring the reliability of observational data: a reactive process. J Appl Behav Anal. 1973 Spring;6(1):175–184. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Rounsaville BJ, Weissman MM, Prusoff BA. Psychotherapy with depressed outpatients: patient and process variables as predictors of outcome. Br J Psychiatry. 1981 Jan;138:67–74. [PubMed]
  • Strain PS, Shores RE, Timm MA. Effects of peer social initiations on the behavior of withdrawn preschool children. J Appl Behav Anal. 1977 Summer;10(2):289–298. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Urbain ES, Kendall PC. Review of social-cognitive problem-solving interventions with children. Psychol Bull. 1980 Jul;88(1):109–143. [PubMed]
  • Wodarski JS, Feldman RA, Pedi SJ. Objective measurement of the independent variable: a neglected methodological aspect in community-based behavioral research. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1974 Sep;2(3):239–244. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis are provided here courtesy of Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...