Has behavior therapy drifted from its experimental roots? A survey of publication trends in mainstream behavioral journals.
In recent years it has been suggested that behavior therapy, characterized in part by single-subject designs and an idiographic approach to addressing practical problems, is drifting from its experimental roots. To examine trends in behavior therapy, and to provide an objective index of drift, two archival studies were conducted to identify publication trends in the use of single-subject designs vs. group designs, as well as citations to select basic behavioral science journals. In Study 1, articles appearing in Behavior Therapy from 1970 through 1996 were reviewed and categorized in terms of type of article, design, and citations to experimental journals. Findings from Study 1 suggest declining publication trends in single-subject designs and citations to experimental journals in Behavior Therapy, with a modest increase in the use of group designs over the period. Study 2 was designed to replicate and extend our initial findings by surveying three behavioral journals in addition to Behavior Therapy using the PsychLit database and years covering 1974 through 1996: Behaviour Research and Therapy, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, and Behavior Modification. Consistent with Study 1, results of Study 2 showed declining trends in single-subject designs for all mainstream behavioral journals. The significance of these findings in light of the argument that behavior therapy has drifted from its experimental roots is discussed, with emphasis on contingencies that may be responsible for the trends observed.
Forsyth, JP; Kollins, S; Palav, A; Duff, K; Maher, S
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