Adaptive Behavior

What is Adaptive Behavior?

Adaptive behavior is behavior that responds appropriately to environmental stimuli.  When planning a program to decrease inappropriate, maladaptive behaviors, it is critical to include objectives to increase replacement, adaptive behaviors.  Behavior analysts consider all elements that may be reinforcing maladaptive behavior in order to determine an adaptive behavior that will serve the same reinforcing function.  For example, in a classroom where a child receives his teacher’s attention by screaming, a behavior analyst would look to decrease the screaming by teaching the child a new adaptive response, such as raising his hand.  This would enable the child to receive the same reinforcing value sought by his screaming—the teacher’s attention.

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