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.


First International Conference; Italy, 2001

Event Details

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Symposium #8
Conditioning: How the Subject Learns to Look after Themselves in an Ever Changing World
Thursday, November 29, 2001
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Bibliography Hall
Area: TPC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Paul J. H. Andreoli (Innosearch Development Support BV; Echten, Netherlands)
Discussant: Beata Bakker-De Pree (CGA Business; Den Haag, Netherlands)
Abstract: When we talk about conditioning, we refer to the environmental control of behavior. Both the quantity and the variety of laboratory studies on individual behavior guarantee the experimentally based evidence to that. No wonder that the principles of conditioning come in useful for teachers, therapists, managers and anybody else who wants to do something about other people's behavior. However, the environmental control of the subject’s behavior is only one side of the conditioning story. The other side of the same story tells us about what the subject is going through while getting conditioned. Whether we look at a simple experimental design or a complicated one, the subject is always doing the same, which is: learning to take care of himself in a particular situation. For that, he learns to utilize whatever opportunities his immediate environment presents. The apparently innate ability to do so has been demonstrated by thousands of studies on conditioning, though none of those was meant for that purpose! Reconsidering conditioning from the perspective of the subject, stimulates new reflections on (1) the impact of functionally different behavior, (2) the definition of decisive data on human everyday behavior, and (3) how to collect those data.
Functional Differences of Behavior in Everyday Life: the Prominent Place of Active Avoidance
JANNA VAN DELDEN (Regional Institute for Out-patient Mental Health Care Midden-Holland; Gouda, Netherlands)
Abstract: A behavioristic interpretation of human conduct requires an extrapolation of conditioning principles derived from research findings on animals. Daily human actions will be distinguished in terms of their function. People maintain their well being both by responding and non responding to environmental stimuli. Three forms of responding (approach, escape and active avoidance) and two forms of non responding (extinction and passive avoidance) will be discussed in terms of functional differences on the basis of the respective controlling stimuli and the resulting state of the individual. Active avoidance is assigned a prominent place because it results in the most "all round" good state by far. Examples of everyday human behavior will be given as an illustration.
Investigating the Function of Human Everyday Behavior
BART BRUINS (Regional Institute for Out-patient Mental Health Care Midden-Holland; Gouda, Netherlands)
Abstract: In the laboratory determination of the function of a response is usually no issue. In this artificial environment, the target behavior and the controlling stimuli are determined by the design of the experiment. Whether the target behavior has an approach, escape or avoidance function is dependent on the contingencies applied. On the other side, the function of behavior in natural environments is difficult to determine. The topography of the response does not provide useful clues, because topographically identical behavior can have dissimilar functions in various situations due to differences in stimulus control. Moreover, the controlling stimuli in natural environments are mostly of a complex nature. And even more complicating, the stimulus control of the present conduct has been established by contingencies in earlier situations and cannot be observed in the present situation. Therefore, determination of the function of an action in human everyday life requires a specific method. By means of a special interview technique the function of an individual's action can be detected in retrospect. The method will be explained and exemplified. Also, some related theoretical and methodological issues will be discussed.



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