Assessing misconceptions about behavior analysis




Cappelli, Pierce

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Misconceptions about scientific disciplines are problematic and lead to strong, misinformed opinions about fields that should be based on facts. Psychology is no stranger to misconceptions, and the subfield of Behavior Analysis is one of the largest areas affected by this problem. Starting with the theories of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, Behavior Analysis has had a steady series of misquotations and accusations used against it. In order to address and correct misconceptions, it is first necessary to specifically identify which of the misconceptions exist in a population. Studies have created psychometrically valid scales to assess misconceptions about general Psychology, but none have been created to assess misconceptions in Behavior Analysis. Valid psychometric properties are necessary for a scale and its results to have meaning. Using item building, item analysis, and factor analysis techniques, this study attempts to build a scale that can validly assess misconceptions about Behavior Analysis in a University undergraduate student population. The results of the analysis revealed inconsistent patterns in participant responses. This inconsistency in responses was partially due to variance between textbook and question content, as well as other testable factors. Future studies should focus more specifically on the information within the textbooks used by students. Once a scale can properly measure which misconceptions exist, empirically proven techniques can then be used to correct them. Once corrected, negative views and stereotypes of Behavior Analysis will begin to decline.


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Behavior Analysis, Misconceptions, Psychology, Scale