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Multiple Baseline Design

Multiple Baseline Design – analyzes the effects of an independent variable across multiple behaviors/settings/participants (dependent variable) without having to withdraw the treatment.

Types of Multiple Baselines

  1. Multiple baseline across behaviors
  2. Multiple baseline across settings
  3. Multiple baseline across participants

Other variations

Multiple probe design – analyzing a successive approximation or task sequence.

  • Use when evaluating how instruction affects skill sequences (for example, a skill that requires previous steps to be able to perform later steps)

Delayed multiple baseline – initial baseline and intervention begin, and subsequent baselines are added in a staggered fashion.

  • Use when a reversal is not possible
  • Use when limited resources constrict the use of a full multiple baseline
  • Use when a new behavior, setting, or subject emerges


  • Select independent, yet functionally similar, baselines
  • Select target skills that are similar enough to measured concurrently and all variables that influence one are able to influence the other
  • Do not apply the IV to the next segment too soon
  • Vary the lengths of the baselines
  • Intervene on the most stable baseline first


  • Does not require treatment withdrawal
  • Allows multiple behavior changes at once
  • Easy to conceptualize for those not formally trained in behavior analysis


  • Although a functional relation exists, it does not allow for the demonstration of experimental control
  • Weaker design than reversal because it infers experimental control with the changes in other DV’s (settings/behaviors/people)
  • MBL speaks more to the effectiveness of a treatment than the function of any particular behavior


Belisle, J., Rowsey, K.E., & Dixon, M.R. (2016) The Use of In Situ Behavioral Skills Training to Improve Staff Implementation of the PEAK Relational
Training System, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 36:1, 71-79, doi: 10.1080/01608061.2016.1152210

Cooper J.O, Heron T.E, Heward W.L. Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson; 2007. [Google Scholar]

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About the Author: Becca Duncan, M.A., BCBA, is a supervisor with the Behavior Analyst Mentorship Network. She has worked in the field since 2012 in residential programs, day programs, schools, in home, and in clinic settings with ages ranging from 2-95-years-old. Becca’s expertise includes ABA therapy, supervision, skill acquisition, children with autism, and adults with complex needs.

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