© David Sponder, L.E.P., BCBA, RDI CC, Floortime C1
Executive Director, Sponderworks Children’s Services

“Baseline Logic” describes the reasoning process in which a Behavior Analyst arrives at an initial hypothesis of why a behavior occurs.   Quite simply, the Analyst looks for patterns in the antecedents and consequences of the behavior that seem to be somewhat “steady.”

If there is a clear linear connection, it’s usually pretty easy.  In fact, most people will intuit their own hypothesis based on what they see.  Intuiting and hypothesizing about the meaning of patterns in other people’s behavior is endemic to our species.

Of course, we want soomething more scientific than that.  While we usually investigate the hypotheses given to us by Caregivers and other lay observers, we have to observe the patterns a bit more deeply – testing hypotheses and checking out other possibilities as well.

There is a problem however, when the linear connections between observable antecedents and consequences are not available or are unclear.  That is when knowledge of more than a single theory of behavior is vital.  Linear functional analysis cannot deal with the complexity of many behaviors.   That is why it is good to know more about the life conditions, emotional, psychological and developmental capacities of the individual, as well as what principles of attachment and systems theory, child development, developmental psychopathology and neurodevelopment can tell us about what to suspect or rule out.  This may seem like it’s more complicated way of doing business – and it is, but complex behavior demands complexity of analysis, and a good working knowledge of these fields can do a lot to lead to the right hypothesis sooner.  That is, theories of development and systems do a lot to tell us what to expect and what is more or less likely, and we can then proceed towards looking at how observable antecedents and consequences contribute to the behavior in a clearer context.