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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Paper Session #156
Some Political and Social Implications of Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 29, 2005
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Waldorf (3rd floor)
Area: TPC
Chair: Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)
Is Behaviorism Liberal, Conservative, or Neither?
Domain: Theory
STUART A. VYSE (Connecticut College)
Abstract: Although behaviorism sprang from basic research with non-human species, like all theories of human nature it has important social and political implications. Behavior analytic theories of human behavior have generally fallen on the nurture end of the nature-nurture continuum, which is usually considered consistent with a liberal political orientation, but a number of behavior analysts have held relatively conservative political views (e.g. Richard Herrnstein). This apparent contradiction may simply demonstrate that the determinants of an individual’s political stance are distinct from the forces that control his or her choice of scientific work. Behavioral theories have logical connections to popular notions of liberalism and conservativism, and conversely, liberal and conservative political viewpoints imply differing views of human nature. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether behaviorism as philosophy of human nature necessarily leads the adherent to a particular political viewpoint. This presentation will examine current definitions of political conservatism and liberalism and their relationship to behavioral and non-behavioral theories of human nature. Behavioral notions of values and morality will be also be examined, as will the political implications of recent theories of behavioral stability.
Are Women, People of Color, Asians, and Southern Europeans Inherently Inferior to the Rest of Us?
Domain: Theory
RICHARD W. MALOTT (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Biological determinism vs. behavior analysis--the battle for the soul of psychology. Behavior analysis is more than a technology; it is also a world view that can help us understand the human condition far beyond the Skinner box. However, political expedience in some contexts causes us to violate that world view and drift down the genome strewn path to intellectual shallowness, in ways we would never consider in other contexts.



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