Improving behaviour classification consistency: A technique from biological taxonomy

Year: 2002

Author: Choi, Serene Hyun-Jin, Nieminen, Timo, Bahr, Mark, Bahr, Nan

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Quantitative behaviour analysis requires the classification of behaviour to produce the basic data. In practice, much of this work will be performed by multiple observers, and maximising inter-observer consistency is of particular importance.

Another discipline where consistency in classification is vital is biological taxonomy. A classification tool of great utility, the binary key, is designed to simplify the classification decision process and ensure consistent identification of proper categories.

We show how this same decision-making tool - the binary key - can be used to promote consistency in the classification of behaviour. The construction of a binary key also ensures that the categories in which behaviour is classified are complete and non-overlapping. We discuss the general principles of design of binary keys, and illustrate their construction and use with a practical example from education research.