The field of Behavior Analysis grew out of the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. It has two main branches: experimental and applied behavior analysis. The experimental analysis of behavior is the basic science of this field and has over many decades accumulated a substantial and well-respected body of research literature. This literature provides the scientific foundation for applied behavior analysis, which is both an applied science that develops methods of changing behavior and a profession that provides services to meet diverse behavioral needs. Briefly, professionals in applied behavior analysis engage in the specific and comprehensive use of principles of learning, including operant and respondent conditioning, in order to address behavioral needs of widely varying individuals in diverse settings. Examples of these applications include: building the skills and achievements of children in school settings; enhancing the development, abilities, and choices of children and adults with different kinds of disabilities; and augmenting the performance and satisfaction of employees in organizations and businesses.
Applied Behavior Analysis is a well-developed discipline among the helping professions, with a mature body of scientific knowledge, established standards for evidence-based practice, distinct methods of service, recognized experience and educational requirements for practice, and identified sources of requisite education in universities. Although the above regulatory definitions provide an overview of key elements within the practice of behavior analysis, there are additional features of applied behavior analysis that should be clarified in order to even briefly define the field. For the purposes of BACB certifications and examinations, the content of applied behavior analysis is contained in the BACB Task List.