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.


Fourth International Conference; Australia, 2007

Event Details

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Paper Session #20
On "Minds" and "Private" Events
Monday, August 13, 2007
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
L2 Room 3
Area: TPC
Chair: Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
The Concept of Mind.
Domain: Theory
GREG STIKELEATHER (P.E.E.R. International)
Abstract: At this time in history, the term "mind" is part of most people's everyday discourse and it permeates popular culture. The concept of mind also holds a central position in cognitive psychology. This paper outlines how a parsimonious scientific analysis suggests the concept of mind has no useful physical referents and as such is of little value in scientific inquiry. Implications for scientific progress and ramifications for useful, adaptable everyday discourse without using the term "mind" are also discussed.
B. F. Skinner's Theory of Mind.
Domain: Theory
HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: This paper argues that 60 years ago in his article, “The Operational Analysis of Psychological Terms,” Skinner (1945) provided an analysis of many of the skills that today would be referred to as theory of mind (ToM), including the ability to infer the “mental states that cause action,” “to predict what another person will do based on such inferences,” and “to reflect on the contents of one’s own and other’s minds” (Baron-Cohen, 2001). This paper describes Skinner’s theory that the verbal community not only teaches terms that refer to objective events because the relevant stimuli act “upon both the speaker and the reinforcing community,” but also terms controlled by private events. Skinner recast the objective-subjective distinction as a public-private one and in so doing provided a clue as to how we learn to talk about the contents of our private world and the private world of others, and to predict their behavior. Research by nominal psychologists showing that certain verbal experiences of language-learning children (e.g., mental-state utterances from mothers that behavior analysts would interpret as autoclitic-rich) are correlated with ToM abilities supports the behavioral contention that such experience is crucial.
Observing "Private" Events.
Domain: Theory
LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Radical Behaviorists contend that among the events conceptualized as the legitimate subject matter of behavior science are events occurring within the skin of responding organisms. However, because of the location in which events of this sort are held to occur, they are held to be inaccessible to external observers and thereby deemed to be ill-suited to investigation. The coherence and advisability of this logic is contested in the present paper, coupled with strategies for observing so-called "private events".



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