Behaviour Assessment: Meaning and Types

Behavioural evaluation is best defined by comparison with traditional assessment. One of the most noteworthy parallels is the emphasis on situational drivers of behaviour in behavioural assessment. This emphasizes the importance of a thorough grasp of the key antecedents and effects of behaviour in behavioural evaluation. On the other hand, traditional evaluation is frequently seen as more apt to interpret behaviour as the outcome of persistent, underlying features.

The fundamental difference in causality beliefs explains most other differences between the two faiths. A further extension of this conceptual distinction is that behavioural assessment extends beyond attempting to understand the contextual or situational elements of behaviour and, more crucially, is concerned with strategies to modify these behaviours.

What is Behaviour Assessment?

The behavioural assessment examines and measures numerous components of behaviour to determine why a given behaviour happens and what causes that behaviour. These would comprise overt behaviours, feelings, cognitions, and the variables that govern them, which might come from within or outside the individual.

Behavioural evaluation focuses on what a person does rather than what a person possesses or is. It is also stated that behavioural assessment is more of an experimental activity that attempts to determine the range of processes used to comprehend children, adults, groups, and so on. This concept emphasizes a hypothesis-testing problem-solving assessment paradigm to identify effective intervention options to correct identified behavioural disorders.

The history of behavioural evaluation is inextricably linked to behaviourism as a scientific psychology paradigm and its therapeutic application. Thus, behavioural evaluation originated when complicated human behaviours were first recognized as a scientific research subject. Four major periods have been identified since the 1960s. Regarding the nature of behavioural assessment, its major objective has been behavioural modification.

As a result, all conceptual and methodological elements originate from an endeavour to describe and quantify a specific behavioural issue and its cause or regulating factors to create the optimal solution. Functional analysis, triple response modes and multi-causality, idiographic, multimethod, and experimental methods are the essence of behavioural evaluation.

The Theoretical Model Underlying the Application of Behavioural Assessment Procedures

The theoretical underpinnings of the idea above of behavioural assessment originate from the interplay between the person's prior learning and the external and organismic contexts in which the person works. The environment in which the behaviour happens is crucial, and individuals' biological constitution and physiological functioning assist them in adapting and responding to their surroundings. Evaluating behaviour necessitates an examination of the individual, the environment, and the connection between the two. In this sense, setting refers to the external factors that may influence the occurrence or non-occurrence of the behaviour. Environmental conditions are related to the occurrences that occur immediately and distally before and after the behaviour.

Types of Behavioural Assessment

Behavioural assessment can be of different types and some of which are given below −

  • Direct Assessment − The behaviour recording is done in this case as it occurs in the scenario.

  • Analogue Assessment − This entails monitoring behaviour under simulated settings because the behaviour may sometimes not occur in a natural scenario.

  • Indirect Assessment − The behaviour is not witnessed in this case but is inferred through retrospective analysis.

  • Idiographic Assessment − This explains the individual in question's behavioural qualities. For example, consider a youngster with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and the assessment, in this case, is disorder-focused.

  • Contextual Assessment − This evaluation technique focuses on the environmental cues that produce the behaviour.

Functional Behavioural Assessment

A Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA) attempts to go beyond the obvious interpretation of behaviour as "bad" to identify what role it may provide for the individual. Understanding why someone behaves the way they do is the first step toward developing ways to stop the behaviour. The procedure often includes documenting the individual's behaviour in various scenarios, interviewing family members and gathering information about the individual's behaviour, and, if required, receiving information about the individual's behaviour from the workplace, among other sources.

All of this is carried out by a behavioural specialist, based on which the intervention plan is developed. Behavioural evaluation gives information often unavailable through traditional assessment but is required for developing effective remedial methods and solutions for specific problems. Another key factor to examine in behavioural assessment validity is the extent to which information acquired via a multidimensional assessment leads to effective treatment results (treatment validity).

Functional analysis is the primary instrument used in behavioural evaluation. The triple response mode—motor, cognitive, and physiological—was to be used to describe behavioural issues, and several probable causes—multicausality—were to be allowed. A person's depression, for example, should be defined by cognitive (loneliness, attention, and concentration issues), physiological (sleep disruption), and motor (low rate of social behaviour and physical activity) behaviours. This difficulty can be explained functionally by numerous circumstances, such as a reinforcement system deficiency, an insufficient motivational system (personal condition), or a biological condition dysfunction—and generally by combining all of these elements.

Because behavioural disorders should be explained using the triple response mode, i.e., motor, cognitive, and physiological modes, various evaluation techniques other than observation of overt behaviour and other informants (besides the patient) should be examined. In other words, one of the essential qualities of behavioural assessment is multimethod. Behavioural assessment serves as the foundation for behavioural change, and behavioural change necessitates therapy and experimental manipulations and evaluation. As a result, the experimental approach has remained a constant among the core characteristics of behavioural evaluation throughout its history.

Reliability and Validity Issues in Behavioural Assessment

In behavioural assessment, reliability refers to an agreement between observers who see the same behaviour at the same time (interrater reliability) or to a single observer who sees the same behavioural sequence several times. Validity in behavioural assessment, on the other hand, refers to data obtained from one measure (e.g., classroom observation) being predictive of behaviour obtained from other measures (e.g., classroom achievement scores or teacher ratings) in different settings, under different conditions, at different times, or by different observers. In behavioural evaluation, multifaceted assessment is the rule, and each assessment technique should produce equal data (convergent validity).

Process of Behavioural Change: Assessment, Treatment, and Evaluation

The function of behavioural assessment in behaviour modification or behavioural change is one of its most essential characteristics. To modify behaviour, the first step is to determine why the behaviour happens in the first place. Once the reason has been identified, the therapy intervention may be developed and evaluated to see if the intervention resulted in the intended change. Behavioural evaluation has various problems and is now solely useful in the clinical sector, and it must be extended to other fields as well.

Measurement instruments and better measurement devices are required for behavioural evaluation. Assessment entails a well-known decision-making process in terms of the operations performed. However, this procedure is not prescribed. We may anticipate scientific societies to produce and promote standards or recommendations for the assessment process in the future. Not only should problems be examined, but we also need evaluation instruments to measure normal behaviour and make recommendations for effective living.

Advantages of Behavioural Assessment

  • Behavioural assessments give objective data for determining particular teaching material and intervention tactics.

  • Behavioural evaluation immediately leads to the development of intervention measures.

  • Behavioural assessment can be performed in the context of the concerned behaviour or in simulated settings mimicking the natural setting.

  • Behavioural evaluation is adapted to the referred person's specific qualities and the desired environment.

  • The continuation of behavioural assessment helps the determination of progress and the evaluation of results.

  • Because behavioural evaluation approaches are so diverse, they aid in multidimensional assessment.

  • The majority of behavioural evaluation approaches are simple to execute and do not require specialized degrees.

Limitations of Behavioural Assessment

  • Many of the methods used in behavioural assessments need to be standardized.

  • Inconsistent data may come from different levels of the definition of the relevant behaviours.

  • Narrow definitions of behaviour may lead to less consistency in observing behaviour.

  • Behavioural assessment methods may appear to be simple to implement. However, if the psychologist or behaviourist is not trained in the approaches, the evaluation will be flawed, and the intervention will be unsuccessful.


In several important ways, behavioural evaluation varies from traditional assessment. Direct evaluations (naturalistic observations) of problematic behaviour, antecedent (situational) factors, and effects are emphasized in behavioural assessment (reinforcement). By undertaking a functional analysis, clinicians can gain a more precise grasp of the environment and reasons for behaviour. It is also important to note that behavioural assessment is a continuous process at all treatment stages.

Updated on: 13-Feb-2023

2K+ Views

Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started