Positive Behavior Support: Considerations for the Future of a Model

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2007


The emergence of positive behavior support (PBS) has presented some challenges and opportunities for applied behavior analysis. In a recent review and critique of positive behavior support, Johnston, Foxx, Jacobson, Green, and Mulick (2006) acknowledge that the success of PBS in garnering support in schools, agencies that service individuals with developmental disabilities, and state and federal agencies, and suggest some behaviors to be emulated by applied behavior analysis in order to garner similar support. However, they recommend that PBS should not be embraced by behavior analysts because it poses a threat to the field and is less effective than applied behavior analysis. Before this recommendation is embraced by behavior analysts, it is important to consider the ramifications of a split between PBS and behavior analysis, particularly given that PBS has its origins in behavior analysis and is conceptualized by prominent adherents of the PBS model to be a type of or extension of applied behavior analysis (Dunlap, 2006; Horner, 2000). I propose that PBS should not be dismissed but should be viewed as an opportunity by the field of applied behavior analysis to reach its goal of large-scale adoption. A continued strong relation between PBS and behavior analysis may actually accomplish the broadest dissemination and adoption of effective behavioral technology. It will also benefit PBS by keeping it grounded in the conceptual system that fostered its development.



Publication Title

The Behavior Analyst