Data Collection and Measurement Assessment in Behavioral Research: 1958–2013

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The measurement of behavior plays an integral role in psychology and its subfields such as behavior analysis. Behavior analysts, as with all scientists, must establish a clear and concise link between observed measures and the actual phenomena under observation. Three measures help establish the link—interobserver agreement, reliability, and accuracy. Authors in the current review surveyed over 2,000 studies from behavioral journals published between 1958 and 2013. Guiding questions covered how behavior analysts collect data and to what extent and how do they conduct assessments of the dependent variables. Results indicated that the collection of data across behavior analytic research occurs equitably between direct observation, permanent product, and automated recording. In addition, only a third of studies include dependent measure assessment with the vast majority occurring at the interobserver agreement level. The discussion centers on issues surrounding the reliance on interobserver agreement within our science and the potential of future technological advancements to improve the link between measurement and the natural world.

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