What are the Seven Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis?
The BCBA exam requires you to know the 7 dimensions of ABA. The seven dimensions of applied behavior analysis include: behavioral, applied, technological, conceptually systematic, analytical, generality, and effective. You will need to know how to apply each dimension in given scenarios on the BCBA exam. Each dimension is defined with an example below. A common acronym used to remember the seven dimensions is BATCAGE, but feel free to make up your own.
The behavioral dimension is the building block of our behavior change as board certified behavior analysts. Behavior must be observable and measurable, and in need of change.
Example: If a child struggles with writing their name, we would not target frustration or anger, two things that cannot be observed and measured. Rather, you would target the actual behavior of writing their name. Additionally, writing needs improvement.
The applied dimension says that, as behavior analysts, we should target socially valid behaviors. This means behaviors that are meaningful to the client, the client’s family, and others that interact with the client.
Example: Communication, social skills, self-help skills, adaptive skills, independent living skills, and self-management are all socially valid behaviors that improve the lives of the client and others around the client. Always choose the most socially valid behaviors to target in treatment.
The technological dimension says that treatment plans, interventions, and behavior plans should be written in a way that is replicable. In other words, could another BCBA replicate your treatment plan with ease?
Example: How-to guides and recipes are written in a way that anyone can follow them and successfully implement them. What is the recipe for success in your treatment plan?
The conceptually systematic dimension says that all interventions, treatment plans, and behavior plans are based on the principles of behavior analysis. In other words, apply what you’ve learned from the BCBA exam to your interventions!
Example: You design a treatment plan that revolves around a gluten-free diet but does not include any components of ABA. This would violate this dimension.
The analytic dimension says you should use data to make data-based decisions regarding treatment and interventions. We should not rely on subjective opinion or assumptions. Experimentation should guide our treatment, and we should try to establish a functional relation between our intervention and the behavior change.
Example: Before you create a behavior plan for your client, you observe the client, take data, graph the data, and analyze the data. Once your behavior plan is implemented, you continue evaluating the data until a functional relation is established between your intervention and the behavior change.
The generality dimension says that behavior change should persist outside of the learning environment across settings, people, behaviors, and other stimuli. Generality is arguably the most important dimension. If behavior change only occurs in the learning environment, then the client has failed to generalize the behavior and the results will not be meaningful. In other words, generalization is key. It is important to plan for generalization, and not “wait and hope” that things work out.
Example: Your client is potty trained at their house. Through additional teaching, the client can now use the bathroom in stores, in school, and in other locations. BCBAs should always program for generalization. Read more about generalization and maintenance.
The effective dimensions asks if your intervention is working. Your treatment plans should be changing the behavior, and changing the behavior in the desired direction (either increased or decreased). Additionally, is the behavior change substantial and relevant?
Example: A BCBA implements a skill acquisition plan, but after a month of data the behavior has increased from 20% mastery to 30% mastery. This plan is ineffective and not substantial. It should be adjusted using data-based decision making.