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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Symposium #206
Interdependence, Behaviorism and Sustainability
Sunday, May 29, 2005
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Lake Huron (8th floor)
Area: CSE; Domain: Theory
Chair: Madelon Y. Bolling (University of Washington)
Discussant: Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College)
Abstract: For decades we have been warned of imminent catastrophe due to our mistreatment of the environment. Environmentalists including behaviorists have worked hard to change relevant behaviors. However, until different positive contingencies become operative, the effort to shape ecologically sustainable behaviors one at a time appears somewhat quixotic. The situation calls for nothing less than a change in mainstream cultural values. The question is how do we shift our attention from individual well-being in isolation to interdependent well-being? It cannot happen by making people guilty, nor is teaching recycling and the use of public transportation enough. To find and to value as part of ourselves our existing connections with all people and the rest of the natural world, the endeavor needs to be intrinsically rewarding. This session takes some initial steps, looking first at how the educational system maintains environmentally unsustainable behaviors, then turns to behavioral thinking for philosophical support for attention to interdependence, and finally to an analysis of a real life experience of the process of shifting attention to systemic contingencies.
School Curricula and Environmentally Unsustainable Behavior
LIVIA M. SA (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: In his studies on logic, Kantor proposed the interbehavioral hypothesis as a naturalistic approach to investigation. His interbehavioral hypothesis deems education as a composite of interrelated institutions and events, which configure a process by which biological organisms are transformed into culturalized persons. Considering that school is one of those institutions, and that curriculum planning is the construction of a system that delineates part of the experience of those culturalized by the system, Kantor's theoretical model certainly offers fruitful interdisciplinary exchanges between the fields of psychology and curriculum studies, Drawing from Kantor's writings on logic, the paper proposes an understanding of curriculum that encompasses the dimensions of culture, philosophy, science, theory, and practice. Without such systemic understanding of the curricular activity, metacontingencies currently in course in the American society will continue to prevail and mainstream school curricula will continue acculturating students into environmentally unsustainable behaviors.
Developing Attention to Interdependence: The Presence of Systemic Constraints
MADELON Y. BOLLING (University of Washington)
Abstract: Awareness of ecosystemic interdependence and the place of humans in this picture is not one of the strong points of mainstream culture. Behaviorally, awareness of our place in the ecosystem has to include care for the sustained well-being of systems in which we are biologically embedded: not guilt-ridden care, but an outpouring of enlightened self-interest if nothing else. Gibsonian thinkers Hodges and Baron hypothesize that systemic constraints may be conceptualized as values. These values/constraints shape systemic behavior such that harmony and orderly change are maintained. Logically and practically, there must be intrinsic sources of positive reinforcement for attending to or seeking congruence with such values, to the constraints of interdependence with other aspects of the ecosystem. There is evidence from studies in related fields that existing physiological responses to the natural environment may represent such a mechanism. We need to overcome culturally sanctioned rule-governed behavior to the contrary in order to attend to them. This paper examines definitions and historic usages of relevant words in search of clues to those responses to ecosystemic processes in order to make attention to interdependence accessible to interested behavior analysts.
Interlocking Contingencies and the Steps to Sacred Practice
CHRISTINE T. LOWERY (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Abstract: When does entering the circle become recognition of the sacred? As an ethnographer studying socio-cultural change and aging on the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, I re-entered a culture left when I was four. Cultural practices had already been introduced to me, but I practiced as a child. Upon return, I started practicing as a 50-year-old woman with a purpose. Practices mimicked at age 4 now had significance. In learning more about the people, the history, and the place, meaning was made, and the practice became sacred.The stages of behavioral participation will be analyzed using the practices of participation in the social dances of the pueblo, in an attempt to understand where the behavior became more than going through the motions, and when understanding what it means to “pray for all the people” started. What were the changing reinforcers for these behaviors: learning the rhythms of the drums and the dance steps, learning what to wear and how to access traditional clothes, getting to know the people who participate, moving toward understanding the language of the songs, and learning how to pray? What then are the interlocking contingencies?



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