Online behavior analysis degrees teach students how to study human behavior and to develop interventions for people who have behavioral disorders or who are otherwise acting out in negative or harmful ways. Students who study behavioral analysis learn research-based techniques for reducing problem behavior and reinforcing, or rewarding, desired behavior. While much of the course work is offered online, such degree programs typically incorporate field work requirements where students practice their technique hands-on with clients, such as children with autism-spectrum disorders or adults struggling with chemical dependency or addiction.
One of the many applications of behavior analysis is within the criminal justice field. Behavior analysts in this field may work with people who are just released from prison to reduce recidivism. For example, they may work with those who have served time on drug-related charges to develop interventions that reinforce drug abstinence, treatment retention, and addiction treatment medication.
A different application of behavior analysis in criminal justice is in analysis of unusual or repetitive violent crime. For example, the FBI’s behavioral analysis units provide advice and consultation in cases like serial killings or rapes, and are best known for creating criminal profiles based on the behavior of the unknown subject who is committing the crimes and assessing the likelihood that an unknown serial offender will strike again.
Behavioral analysis is considered a sub-discipline of psychology and is often offered as a concentration within a broader psychology program. However, an important difference exists between behavioral analysis and psychology as a whole. Psychology encompasses the inner workings of the mind and unconscious conflicts, while behavioral analysis deals almost exclusively with observable, external behavior.