Reliance on scientific knowledge is a bedrock principle of behavior analysis and is included in several of the BACB Code rules, such as code 1.01, “Behavior analysts rely on professionally derived knowledge based on science,” and code 2.09(a), “Clients have a right to effective treatment (i.e., based on the research literature …). ” However, cultur- ally diverse clients may not have the same faith in scientific evidence that a behavior analyst has. Consider a situation where a behavior analyst is working to build a relationship
with a family who has recently moved to the United States from another country. This family is highly skeptical of be- havior analysis, and the behavior analyst has been working very hard to establish the trust necessary to do her work and help her client. The family wants to try a nonscientifically supported treatment popular in their culture and that has enjoyed favorable reports in the popular press. The behavior analyst believes that this treatment would be harmless and take very little time and that agreeing could greatly improve the relationship with the family. The behavior analyst also fears that without this collegial approach, the family will de- cide to abandon ABA altogether. This behavior analyst could reasonably decide, after a careful weighing of consequences, that in this situation, deciding to include this nonscientific treatment in a robust package of behavioral interventions is the most ethical course. Once again, it is not the final decision we are promoting, but rather the fact that these are complex situations requiring careful analysis rather than black-and- white rules.
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