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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Special Event #207
CE Offered: BACB
2006 ABA Tutorial: Behavior Analysis: History and Historiography
Sunday, May 28, 2006
3:30 PM–4:20 PM
Centennial Ballroom I
Area: DEV
Chair: Alexandra Rutherford (York University)
CE Instructor: Edward K. Morris, Ph.D.

2006 ABA Tutorial: Behavior Analysis: History and Historiography


Notwithstanding B. F. Skinners comment that Historical research can take the place of scientific inquiry and give one time out for an honorable snooze, while pretending to carry on, historical research in behavior analysis directly engages the fields basic and applied science, as well as it science education. Just as behavior analysis is forward-looking, so too is historical research. With this as background, this tutorial describes the foreground -- the fields history and historiography. That is, it (a) relates the evolution of behavior analysis as a science, discipline, and profession and (b) delves into methodological considerations relevant to conducting historical research and the interpretation of its findings. The main topics I address are the value history inquiry (e.g., predicting current function), the historical subject matter (e.g., events, individuals, institutions), approaches to historical analysis (e.g., qualitative, quantitative), and the methodological considerations (e.g., zeitgeist vs. great person history). Throughout the tutorial, I interweave a history of behavior analysis that is informed by these values, areas, and methods, as well as by other considerations (e.g., origin myths; viz. the cognitive revolution). I also present historical puzzles and problems that vary widely enough to suit the interests and abilities of junior colleagues and senior scholars alike, as they seek to advance behavior analysis as a cultural practice. Finally, I describe a variety of resources that can promote effective historical inquiry. I close with some comments on what it is like to be an historian of behavior analysis.

EDWARD K. MORRIS (University of Kansas)
Dr. Edward K. Morris received a B.S. in psychology from Denison University and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Illinois, with Sidney Bijou and William Redd as his mentors. His sole academic position has been in the Department of Human Development and Family Life (HDFL) at the University of Kansas. Although he has published studies of empirical research, a latent interest in conceptual issues led him to the history of behavior analysis. He has edited books on its seminal figures (e.g., Watson, Skinner), written on the field’s history (e.g., behavior analysis in the 1950s), and analyzed the meaning of relevant terms (e.g., radical behaviorism). Lately, he has been pursuing the integration of like-minded perspectives in the behavioral, social, and cognitive sciences (e.g., theories of direct action), which have histories, too. Dr. Morris has been president of ABA and APA Division 25, and KansABA. He has served as editor of The Behavior Analyst and the Division 25 Recorder. He is a Fellow of APA, a Founding Fellow of APS, and a BCBA. As the Department’s chairperson, he has overseen its recent evolution -- red in tooth and claw -- from HDFL to the Department of Applied Behavioral Science.



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