Definition: Systematically manipulating potential variables that maintain a behavior through alternating test and control conditions. Common variables tested include escape, attention, and access to tangibles.
Why it matters: It systematically evidences the function of a behavior. This information can be used to create an effective intervention plan. It is a key component of an effective FBA.
Example of use: A teacher conducts a functional analyses for a student in her class and begins with attention. Data is collected on the target behaviors across all conditions. The teacher begins by giving the student attention regardless of behavior until 2 minutes is over or the target behavior occurs (control condition). The teacher then provides attention to the student only after the target behavior occurs (test condition). This should be repeated at least once more but should be repeated several times. Next, the teacher tests escape from demands and access to tangibles in the same manner.
Fahmie, T. A., Iwata, B. A., Querim, A. C., & Harper, J. M. (2013). Test-specific control conditions for functional analyses. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46(1), 61. doi:10.1002/jaba.9
Kunnavatana, S. S., Bloom, S. E., Samaha, A. L., & Dayton, E. (2013). Training teachers to conduct trial-based functional analyses. Behavior Modification, 37(6), 707-722. doi:10.1177/0145445513490950