ABA is a science of behavior and scientists have a set of “attitudes” that follow:
Scientists presume that the world is a lawful place where events occur because of other events that present in the environment. Things do not happen haphazardly in the universe. Instead, things happen because of a consequence of other events happening. There is a natural order to the universe and every phenomena has a rational explanation. People do not behave in certain ways for “no reason” and machines do not operate without logic. When a computer “acts glitchy,” there is a rational explanation within the code or hardware that can explain the resultant computer operation. The opposite of determinism is the thought that things happen by accident, predetermination or fatalism.
The act of objective observation of the phenomena that one is interested in, is empiricism. The result of empirical methods result in data that is consistent over any individual and exist in the world outside of our internal belief systems. The empirical attitude includes making the effort of objective observation, measurement and data calculations. The opposite of empiricism is speculation, conjecture or opinion.
An experiment is the act of controlling variables to determine the effect of one variable on a phenomena. The independent variable is the condition that is changed and the dependent variable is the phenomena that is being observed.
The results of a single fully controlled experiment are important on their own, however, only after repeated replication can the findings of the experiment be added to the collection of scientific knowledge of a field. Replication is the main method used to display reliability of a scientific finding.
The lay-person knows the word “parsimony” as a frugality. The scientific use of the word describes how the most simple and logical explanation of a phenomena should be considered before any highly contrived explanations examined. This is also referred to as the Law of Parsimony (Whaley & Surratt, 1968) and is related to Occam’s Razor created by William of Occam (1285 – 1329). This law asks us, when given two explanations for a given phenomena, to consider the most simple and least contrived explanation which requires the fewest assumptions and extraneous variables.
The scientist constantly questions and seeks to set aside preconceived notions or beliefs in order to find the truth of science. Scientists are