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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Lunsford

What Does a Behavior Analyst Do?

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

As a behavior analyst, we look at the "why" behind the behavior. What we do is take the clinical diagnosis of a mental illness (psychopathology) which consists of identifying certain behaviors that have been grouped together and classified as a mental illness.

In the world of behavior analysis, we have what is referred to as a "functional diagnosis", which is often referred to as "function of the behavior".

Let's break down the difference:

Functional Diagnosis

  • Refers to the assessment done at the beginning of the initial consultation to determine where a person is mentally.

Function of Behavior

  • Refers to the ongoing process of collecting information with a goal of identifying stressors and triggers in the individual's environment that will help determine the best treatment and target the behavior.

Currently, there are four types of behavior:

Escape/Avoidance - getting away from an undesirable task, person, place, or thing.

  • Often times the person will show aggression, others may seek out something that is more desirable to them and not show aggression at all.

Attention-Seeking - refers to an individual who participates in a series of behaviors that can either be annoying to others or harmful to themselves. The idea is to receive attention in any form; good or bad.


  • An individual who continuously makes themselves burp at inappropriate times (while someone is speaking to them).

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