Calibration of observational measurement of rate of responding

Oliver C. Mudford, Jason R. Zeleny, Wayne W. Fisher, Molly E. Klum, Todd M. Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The quality of measurement systems used in almost all natural sciences other than behavior analysis is usually evaluated through calibration study rather than relying on interobserver agreement. We demonstrated some of the basic features of calibration using observer-measured rates of free-operant responding from 10 scripted 10-min calibration samples on video. Five novice and 5 experienced observers recorded (on laptop computers) response samples with a priori determined response rates ranging from 0 to 8 responses per minute. Observer records were then compared with these predetermined reference values using linear regression and related graphical depiction. Results indicated that all of the observers recorded rates that were accurate to within ±0.4 responses per minute and 5 were accurate to within ±0.1 responses per minute, indicating that continuous recording of responding on computers can be highly accurate and precise. Additional research is recommended to investigate conditions that affect the quality of direct observational measurement of behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-586
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of applied behavior analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • calibration
  • continuous recording
  • observer accuracy
  • observer precision
  • recording and measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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