Quantitative analysis of behavior

Quantitative analysis of behavior is the application of mathematical models, conceptualized from a robust corpus of environment-behavior-consequence interactions in the experimental analysis of behavior, with the aim to describe and/or predict relations between a dependent variable and all possible levels of an independent variable. The parameters in the models hopefully have theoretical meaning beyond being used to fit models to data. The field was founded by Richard Herrnstein (1961) when he introduced the matching law to quantify the behavior of organisms working on concurrent schedules of reinforcement. The field has integrated models from economics, zoology, philosophy, and other branches of psychology, especially mathematical psychology of which it is a branch. The field is represented by the Society for Quantitative Analysis of Behavior. Quantitative analysis of behavior addresses the following topics among others: behavioral economics, behavioral momentum, connectionist systems or neural networks, integration, hyperbolic discounting including the delay reduction hypothesis, foraging, hunting, errorless learning, creativity, learning, and the Rescorla-Wagner model, matching law, melioration, scalar expectancy, signal detection, neural hysteresis, and reinforcement control.

Concepts and models


  • Herrnstein, R. J. (1961). Relative and absolute strength of response as a function of frequency of reinforcement. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 4, 267-272.
  • Herrnstein, R. J. (1970). On the law of effect. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 13: 243-266.

Influential people in quantitative analysis of behavior

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