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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #191
Stigma and Prejudice: Applying Contextual Behavior Science to a Global Problem
Sunday, May 24, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 222 C
Area: CBM/TPC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Lindsay B. Fletcher (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Skinner aimed to scale a science of behavior to the most important issues of our time. In an age when wars are common and weapons of mass destruction are just in reach, our capacity for harming each other and the earth is terrifying. Stigma is the process of objectification and dehumanization based on participation in verbal categories. This process allows people to treat each other as less than human and may be applied to virtually any category of person as well as to oneself. The pervasiveness of this way of relating to others is not limited to those who behave in overtly prejudiced ways. We are all participants in a society that reinforces stigmatizing language and behavior. Recently, behavioral scientists have become more focused on stigma. This symposium represents a sample of the diverse ways that stigma may be addressed by behavioral psychologists that extend beyond the arenas that clinical psychology traditionally occupies.
Generalized Prejudice: Testing a Relational Frame Theory Account of Prejudice and Stigma
MICHAEL LEVIN (University of Nevada-Reno), Roger Vilardaga (University of Nevada, Reno), Jason Lillis (VA Palo Alto Healthcare System), Steven C. Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno), Jacqueline Pistorello (University of Nevada, Reno), Jason Brian Luoma (Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, & Training Center, PC)
Abstract: The negative impact of stigma and prejudice on society is vast, affecting countless numbers of groups. Proposed solutions often involve targeting prejudiced attitudes and behaviors towards very specific groups through approaches such as multicultural training. However, the broad prevalence and generativity of stigma and prejudice suggests such attempts are unlikely to be successful. From a Relational Frame Theory Perspective (RFT; Hayes, Barnes-Holmes & Roche, 2001), stigma and prejudice can be understood as a common product of human’s capacity to derive arbitrary relations among events. The ability to relate and evaluate people based on arbitrarily derived categories is part of the same behavioral repertoire that allows humans to engage in a broad range of effective behaviors such as problem solving and analogical reasoning. Furthermore, the context in which such verbal behavior occurs, such as how one relates to these thoughts, is essential to consider as it can significantly alter the impact of verbal behavior on subsequent overt behavior. The current study proposes to examine this RFT account of prejudice and stigma using data from an internet-based survey conducted with 200 college students. We will be presenting data on how various stigma/prejudice measures relate as a means of testing whether stigma represents a common psychological process that occurs across groups. Furthermore we will explore the impact of related processes such as experiential avoidance, authoritarianism, psychological rigidity, and mindfulness on the relationship between prejudiced attitudes and subsequent behavior.
Prosocial and Coercive Repertoires and the Evolution of Caring Societies
ANTHONY BIGLAN (Oregon Research Institute)
Abstract: This paper will review the biological, evolutionary, epidemiological, and behavioral evidence about prosocial and coercive behavior. It will argue that it is useful to think in terms of two broad classes of behavior: Prosocial and Coercive. It will briefly review evidence on the role of coercive family processes in the development of aggressive social behavior and depressive behavior and their sequelae, including substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. It will then review evidence about a set of prosocial, self-regulatory behaviors that both contribute to young people’s successful development and play a key role in the success of groups. The evidence points to the need to increase the prevalence of nurturing environments that are marked by high rates of positive reinforcement, low levels of aversive stimulation, and high levels of psychological acceptance. I will sketch the implications of this analysis for the further evolution of a society that sees to the wellbeing of every member.
3. Assessment and Values-Based Multicultural Training: Measuring the Effectiveness of ACT in Increasing Multicultural Engagement and Competence among Psychology Faculty and Graduate Students
ANGELA ENNO (Utah State University), Mike P. Twohig (Utah State University), Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez (Utah State University)
Abstract: The Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (APA, 2003) charge educators and practitioners to infuse diversity into all professional activities, including graduate training. Potential barriers to implementation include trainees’ thoughts of failure; and fear of making mistakes, offending someone, or appearing racist. This study evaluates an intervention designed to increase multicultural competency and engagement in teaching, applied training, activation of students, inclusion of minority students, and the addressing of multicultural issues within the Combined-Integrated Doctoral Program at Utah State University. Faculty and graduate students will participate in a training seminar which combines multicultural competency training with ACT, focusing on: 1) noticing thoughts and feelings that interfere with behaving in culturally competent ways; 2) noticing and accepting the presence of these thoughts and feelings without responding to or fighting them; and 3) helping individuals engage in actions that are consistent with their values instead of letting the “fearful” or “anxious” thoughts and feelings guide their actions. The effectiveness of the intervention will be assessed using pre, post, and follow-up measures to evaluate multicultural engagement, ethnocultural empathy, multicultural knowledge and awareness, and interpersonal reactivity, as well as the ACT processes of willingness and acceptance.
Acceptance and Commitment Training for the Hiring Process: An Analogue Study
COLISHA AMOS (University of Mississippi), Robert C. Martin (University of Mississippi), George A Ball (University of Mississippi), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Mississippi), Jonathan Weinstein (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (The University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: When employers engage in the process of hiring new employees, unintentional racial biases have been shown to affect the decision-making process (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004; Hosoda, Stone, & Stone-Romero, 2003). If an intervention is able to help employers make fairer decisions, then employees will be more likely to be selected based upon their individual merit rather than extraneous factors. The current study examined the impact of a brief (15 minutes) Acceptance and Commitment Training, Equal Employment Regulatory Practices Training, or no training (15 minutes spent reading an article on Mississippi tourism) on undergraduates’ rankings of racially distinct but otherwise equivalent mock resumes.



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