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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Invited Paper Session #182
CE Offered: BACB

Theory of Mind: A Behavior Analytic Perspective

Sunday, May 29, 2005
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Waldorf (3rd floor)
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: T. V. Joe Layng, Ph.D.
Chair: David C. Palmer (Smith College)
T. V. JOE LAYNG (Headsprout)
Joe Layng co-founded Headsprout, and serves as the company's Senior Scientist where he led the scientific team that developed Headsprout’s patented Generative Learning Technology. This technology forms the basis of the company’s Headsprout Early Reading program, for which Joe was the chief architect. Joe has over 25 years of experience in the experimental analysis of behavior and the learning sciences both in the laboratory and in applied settings. Joe earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Science (Biopsychology) from The University of Chicago, where he conducted basic research on animal models of psychopathology. Specifically, he, in collaboration with P. T. Andronis and I. Goldiamond, investigated the recurrence of chronic, un-reinforced, self-injurious behavior (SIB – head-banging by pigeons) as a function of past selection contingencies for SIB, and current selection contingencies which maintained a different class of behavior (key-pecking). He also collaborated with P. T. Andronis and I. Goldiamond on research investigating the adduction of untrained complex symbolic social-behavior, which led to the key elements upon which the Headsprout Generative Learning Technology is based. From 1991 to 1996, Joe was the Director of the Academic Support Center, and then Dean of Public Agency and Special Training Programs at Malcolm X College in Chicago.

In the past few years there has been growing interest in what some investigators have come to call Theory of Mind. Catalyzed by work with Chimpanzees by David Premack and his colleagues, it has been postulated that certain animals, particularly humans, develop a model for what another may be thinking. This model is used in turn to guide how the organism responds in various social situations. In essence, an individual generates a theory concerning the mind of another, and uses that theory to help maximize his or her own social effectiveness. Where such ability is lacking, social effectiveness is said to diminish. Recently, it has been suggested that such diminished capacity may be at the root of Autism. This presentation explores some of the data, both behavioral and from brain imaging studies, which are used to support some of the theory of mind hypotheses. Further, it suggests a behavioral alternative based on Skinners (1957) analysis of Verbal Behavior, with particular emphasis on autoclitic responses, and the steps behavior analysts might take to further explore this interesting area of animal and human research.




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