Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Special Event #9
Opening Event and Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Award Ceremony Chair: William L. Heward (The Ohio State University)
Saturday, May 29, 2010
11:30 AM–12:50 PM
Ballroom A (CC)
Behavior Analysis as a Biological Science
Abstract: My favorite components of my work in behavior analysis are rooted in biology. I use this opportunity to illustrate ways in which we can learn from the biological sciences. My research on inhibitory interactions among operant classes was inspired by analogous interactions in sensory systems. I have also been powerfully influenced by parallels between Darwinian natural selection and operant shaping, as noted by Skinner in 1953. Those parallels are relevant to the shaping of operant classes and to language evolution. Selection by consequences operates at the levels of phylogeny, ontogeny and culture. It has also entered into my service to our field, in that many of us began to think explicitly about the contingencies that enter into the survival of our behavior analytic practices. Our origins are mainly traceable to psychology and philosophy, but as we seek niches within which subsets of our discipline can thrive, we must not overlook biology. A science of behavior is necessarily part of the biological sciences. Organisms evolve based on what they can do; all of their physiological systems evolved in the service of behavior. The expanding range of our applications makes our applied science increasingly secure; we cannot say the same for our basic science. The neurosciences provide one entry, but we must look far more broadly into possible alliances with the biological sciences.
A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
A. Charles Catania is Professor Emeritus at UMBC, where he co-founded its MA track in Applied Behavior Analysis. He is Past-President of ABAI and of Division 25 of the American Psychological Association and has served as Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. He had the great good fortune to start his career in Fall 1954 in Fred Keller’s introductory psychology course, which included a weekly rat lab, and later to serve as TA in Nat Schoenfeld’s Experimental Psychology sequence. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard, where he then conducted postdoctoral research in Skinner’s pigeon laboratory. Catania continued working with rats and pigeons and other organisms over subsequent decades, during which he became increasingly impressed by striking parallels between biological accounts of evolution in terms of Darwinian natural selection and behavior analytic accounts of operant behavior in terms of the selection of behavior by its consequences. He sees the methods and concepts of the biological sciences as having much to offer to our field and has argued that the science of behavior might best be regarded as a component of the biological sciences. The lesson that the study of nonhuman behavior is essential to our understanding of verbal behavior also came from Columbia, where in Spring 1957 Catania took a seminar on verbal behavior jointly taught by Fred Keller, Nat Schoenfeld and Ralph Hefferline. The course began by covering Skinner's William James lectures and then, when Skinner's Verbal Behavior was published midway into the semester, by comparing the older and newer versions. Though virtually all of Catania’s early experimental work was devoted to nonhuman learning, the concentration on behavior without words was critical; a pigeon’s behavior is hard to understand precisely because it doesn't involve words. Behavior without words reveals what is special about human verbal behavior, which is necessarily built upon a nonverbal foundation. Catania’s earlier work on learning without words was highly appropriate preparation for teaching courses on verbal behavior, because it made some special features of verbal behavior stand out clearly. One function of his textbook, Learning, is to integrate the topics of nonverbal and verbal behavior, which have too often been given separate treatments.
Award for International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis
Abstract: Behavior analysis has a great deal to contribute to the world community, and its progress is some areas is stunning. For it to assume its rightful role in the mainstream of behavioral science, behavior analysis needs to be more fearless, self-critical, accessible, and fun. By fearless I mean that there should be no place off limits; every issue and every problem is open for behavior analytic exploration. By self-critical I mean that interpretation will not be accepted as a permanent substitute for data, and there needs to be more flexibility in methods and ideas, constantly reviewing whether we are yet where we need to be empirically and conceptually. By accessible I mean that we need to abandon the silly idea that the world needs to talk like behavioral scientists to benefit from behavioral science, and we need to get comfortable with multiple language systems for different purposes. By fun I mean that we need to create a culture that is lighter and more open so as to allow nonbehaviorists in to play with us without demanding that they first confess their mentalistic sins or feel shame over the inadequacy of their beliefs. The dissemination of acceptance and commitment therapy and relational frame theory worldwide reflects the usefulness of these attributes.
STEVEN C. HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Steven C. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada. An author of 32 books and over 400 scientific articles, his career has focused on an analysis of the nature of human language and cognition and the application of this to the understanding and alleviation of human suffering. Dr. Hayes has been President of Division 25 of the APA, of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology and of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy. He was the first Secretary-Treasurer of the Association for Psychological Science, which he helped form and has served a 5 year term on the National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse in the National Institutes of Health. In 1992 he was listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as the 30th "highest impact" psychologist in the world. His work has been recognized by the Exemplary Contributions to Basic Behavioral Research and Its Applications from Division 25 of APA, the Impact of Science on Application award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy.
Award for Impact of Science on Application
Abstract: Among the earliest translations of findings from the behavior laboratory to improve the human condition was the effort more than 50 years ago to define “a technology of teaching.” This technology was multi-faceted, encompassing the general area of programmed instruction, teaching machines, the personalized system of instruction, and other systematic teaching approaches. These efforts established goals and directions for further technological development by behavior analysts interested in teaching. I will suggest, however, that pursuit of those goals and directions went off course during “the cognitive revolution.” While efforts to develop a technology of teaching continue in certain sites, I think it is beyond dispute that behavior analytic influence in teaching practice is much less than it could and should be. This situation is due to many social and logistical challenges. I will suggest, however, that one way to mitigate these challenges will be offering technological solutions that produce learning outcomes that are unarguably superior to other approaches. To that end, I will discuss how behavior analysts can collaborate with scientists and engineers from other disciplines to realize a technology of teaching that is true to the vision of Skinner, Keller, Sidman, and the many behavior analysts inspired by them.
WILLIAM J. MCILVANE (University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Dr. McIlvane is Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Director of the UMMS Shriver Center and the UMMS Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. Dr. McIlvane directs a multi-focus program that addresses a number of scientific problems relevant to understanding and ameliorating behavior deficits of persons with neurodevelopmental disabilities. One focus is development of procedures to encourage progressively more rapid learning of behaviors involved in symbolic communication. Another is to adapt behavioral neuroscience methods – including animal modeling – to further understanding of brain processes involved in symbolic behavior. A third focus is to develop valid nonverbal neuropsychological testing methods for use with individuals and populations that do not understand verbal instructions. In addition, Dr. McIlvane's program has a strong research-to-practice emphasis. Methods translated from laboratory research are being used to teach practical skills in regular and special education classrooms in both the United States and in Brasil. His presentation will discuss translational behavior analysis as both a concept and an objective. In particular, he will discuss possibilities for more fully realizing the expansive visions of Skinner, Keller, Sidman, and others concerning the development and dissemination of a true technology of teaching.
Award for Effective Presentation of Behavior Analysis in the Mass Media
Abstract: Psychology’s contribution to society includes elaborating the scientific underpinnings of human functioning and translating that knowledge in ways that improve everyday life. Behavior analysis plays a very special role. For decades now, gains from applied behavior analysis have been evident in multiple settings (e.g., the home, schools, community, business, the military, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities), with impact on broad goals of society (e.g., education, mental and physical health, safety), and with populations too numerous to list. These advances underscore a key challenge, namely, to integrate our work better into mainstream psychology and public life. Behavior analysis is more relevant than ever. Advances in many areas (e.g., climate change, epigenetics, neuroscience) underscore the importance of behavior change and its impact (e.g., on the environment, gene expression, overcoming trauma). There are historical reasons for isolation within psychology and perhaps current ones as well, but isolation has deleterious consequences for all parties, especially the public. Increased attention is needed to identify novel ways to integrate behavior analysis into public life and into psychology and perhaps to be influenced by that integration as well.
ALAN E. KAZDIN (Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic)
Alan E. Kazdin. Ph.D. is the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and Director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, an outpatient treatment service for children and families. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University. Before coming to Yale, he was on the faculty of The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. At Yale, he has been Chairman of the Psychology Department, Director of the Yale Child Study Center at the School of Medicine, and Director of Child Psychiatric Services, Yale-New Haven Hospital. Kazdin is a licensed clinical psychologist, a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), and a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Association for Psychological Science. His honors include Research Scientist Career and MERIT Awards from the National Institute of Mental Health, Outstanding Research Contribution by an Individual (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies), the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Psychology (American Psychological Association), and the James McKeen Cattell Award (Association for Psychological Science). In 2008, he was President of the American Psychological Association. Currently, he teaches and supervises graduate and undergraduate students and runs a clinical-research program for children and families. His work focuses on child-rearing practices and the treatment of oppositional, aggressive, and antisocial behavior among children and adolescents. He has authored or edited over 650 articles, chapters, and books. His 45 books focus on child and adolescent psychotherapy, parenting, aggressive and antisocial behavior, and methodology and research design.



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