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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Paper Session #46
A Re-Examination of Latent Learning and Ambivalence
Thursday, November 29, 2001
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Bibliography Hall
Area: TPC
Chair: Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College)
Re-Introductory Psychology: Behaviorism and "Latent Learning"
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
ROBERT G. JENSEN (California State University, Stanislaus)
Abstract: An examination of 10 years of introductory psychology texts shows that textbook authors repeatedly claim that it is necessary to "go beyond" B. F. Skinner and behaviorism in order to adequately explain behavior. The cognitive element is then presented by successive generations of textbook authors as the key element "beyond" Skinner's behaviorism. Evidence in support of this claim, consistent across years, authors, and editions, is the research of Tolman & Honzik (1930) investigating what they referred to as "latent learning." Textbook writers commonly assert that Skinner's learning principles cannot account for this latent learning; therefore cognition is necessary to close the explanatory gap. In contrast to the content of the standard introductory psychology textbook, the present paper demonstrates that the Tolman & Honzik findings are quite consistent with the principles of a science of behavior. A re-examination of Tolman & Honzik's study and Tolman's subsequent writings indicate that the salient behavioral principles that will explain their 1930 findings include (1) the identification of a proper dependent variable (probability of response vs. error rate); (2) phylogenic contingencies; (3) punishment; and (4) establishing operations. Suggestions for encouraging the revision of textbooks will be included in the presentation.
A Reinterpretation in Cognitive-Behavioral Terms of the Concept of "Ambivalence"
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
DAVID DETTORE (University of Florence, Italy)
Abstract: The classic psychoanalytical definition of the ambivalence concept bases itself on the second Freudian drive theory (Eros and Thanatos) and on a hydraulic model of mental operation; both such theoretical frames are demonstrated not only phenomenologically wrong but also experimentally false. Nevertheless, in clinical and psychotherapeutic field, behavioral and emotional reactions are often met that would seem to confirm and to justify the use of this psychoanalytical concept, that, therefore, turns out of some at least descriptive usefulness. Consequently, we review some clinical examples of “ambivalence” and, then, offer a reconceptualization of those cases from a cognitive-behavioral perspective, hopefully able to explain them in a more acceptable way. Within such a theoretical effort we propose, therefore, to replace the old term “ambivalence”, by now too much connoted, with the new one “alternation of operating schemata”, much more congruent with the cognitive-behavioral point of view and its needs of conceptual exactness. Finally, we draw some concluding remarks, that, in our opinion, can be of some clinical and applicative relevance.



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