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Behavioral Cusps: A Developmental and Pragmatic Concept for Behavior Analysis


Article on behavioral cusps and a developmental and pragmatic concept for behavior analysis.

Creation Date: 1997
UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service
UNT Scholarly Works
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Creator (Author):
Rosales-Ruiz, Jesus

University of North Texas

Creator (Author):
Publisher Info:
  • Creation: 1997

Article on behavioral cusps and a developmental and pragmatic concept for behavior analysis.

Department: Behavior Analysis

Abstract: Most concepts of development explain certain behavior changes as products or markers of the invariable succession of emerging periods, stages, refinements, or achievements that define and order much of an individual's life. A different but comparable concept can be derived from the most basic mechanisms of behavior analysis, which are its environmental contingencies, and from its most basic strategy, which is to study behavior as its subject matter. From a behavior-analytic perspective, the most fundamental developmental questions are (a) whether these contingencies vary in any systematic way across the life span, and thus make behavior change in a correspondingly systematic way; (b) whether some of these contingencies and their changes have more far-reaching consequences than others, in terms of the importance to the organism and others, of the behavior classes they change. Certain behavior changes open the door to especially broad or especially important further behavior change, leading to the concept of the behavioral cusp. A behavioral cusp, then, is any behavior change that brings the organism's behavior into contact with new contingencies that have even more far-reaching consequences. Of all the environmental contingencies that change or maintain behavior, those that accomplish cusps are developmental. Behavior change remains the fundamental phenomenon of development for a behavior-analytic view; a cusp is a special instance of behavior change, a change crucial to what can come next.


Copyright © 1997 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.

Physical Description:

12 p.

Keyword(s): developmental stages | pivotal behaviors | behavior analysis
Source: Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1997, Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, pp. 533-544
UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service
UNT Scholarly Works
  • DOI: 10.1901/jaba.1997.30-533 |
  • ARK: ark:/67531/metadc277296
Resource Type: Article
Format: Text
Access: Public
Publication Title: Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
Volume: 30
Issue: 3
Edition: Fall
Page Start: 533
Page End: 544
Peer Reviewed: Yes