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

Previous Page


Invited Paper Session #63
CE Offered: BACB

Why Humans Are So Cruel, and What Can We Do About It?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
CE Instructor: Joseph Ciarrochi, Ph.D.
Chair: JoAnne Dahl (Uppsala University, Sweden)
JOSEPH CIARROCHI (University of Wollongong)
Dr. Joseph Ciarrochi Joseph Ciarrochi has published several books, numerous book chapters, and over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles. His research focuses on understanding how to reduce suffering, promote vitality, and promote social effectiveness. One line of research seeks to identify the skills people need to optimally adapt to difficult life situations. Dr. Ciarrochi is currently collecting the fifth year of data for a large longitudinal study that examines how adolescent resilience develops and changes. A second line of research focuses on evaluating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions amongst a variety of populations (e.g., police force, people diagnosed with cancer).Recently, my colleagues and I are developing an internet-based system for delivering ACT.

Why do humans behave so badly towards one another, in the absence on any obvious deprivation or threat? Most importantly, what can practitioners do about it? My talk will look at the pervasiveness of cruelty and aversive interpersonal behavior, which ranges from the common and mundane (A husband trying to "hurt" his wife with words) to the extraordinary (e.g., the holocaust). Situationist, evolutionary, and cognitive theories provide valuable insights into the problem, but fall short in two ways. First, they explain a relatively limited range of aversive interpersonal behavior, and/or second, they provide limited accounts of how to reduce such behavior. I then illustrate how a behavioral model (ACT/RFT) provides a more comprehensive account of how to predict-and-reduce aversive interpersonal behavior. Finally, I will provide some concrete examples of how an ACT practitioner might go about reducing cruelty and promoting kindness.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh