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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #271
Behavior Analysis and Human Choice
Sunday, May 25, 2014
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
W175b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: TPC/OBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Ingunn Sandaker (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences  )

Human choice behavior might have economical consequences both on individual and systems level. In this symposium we will approach choice behavior from a perspective of discounting losses on an individual basis. We will also present a model for intervention on a systems level to increase retention in higher education. The last presentation will address the historical and recent joint scientific enterprise of economics and behavior analysis to explain and possibly influence human choice behavior.


Discounting of Losses

ELISE FRØLICH FURREBØ (Oslo and Akershus University College)

Discounting of losses The hyperbolic/hyperboloid discounting curve is a display of choice behavior over time, and thus understanding how the curve is formed and what it consists of, is important in the search for causes of choice and choice-changes. Inter-temporal decision making challenges us as individuals in many situations; as consumers, in healthy living, in our work- and study habits etc. The challenge taking place in these choice settings is that we continuously keep considering what one ought to do for a long term advantage against the more pleasurable short term gains. Similar discounting seems to occur for losses; a future loss may be discounted in that it is preferred postponed. However, studies show that discounting is not as steep for losses as it is for gains (Frederick, Loewenstein, & O'Donoghue, 2002; Thaler, 1981). This is referred to as the sign effect. The scope of this paper is to discuss possible reasons for the sign effect, focusing on the discounting of losses and its seemingly flatter curve. Differences in how we discount losses compared to discounting of gains, suggests the need for different strategies for handling unwanted discounting accordingly.


Procrastination: What is it, and Can it Be Reduced in College Students?

LARS INGE HALVORSEN (Oslo and Akershus University College)

Procrastination: what is it, and can it be reduced in college students? Pablo Picasso said "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." Procrastination is a familiar phenomenon for most students. It appears in all facets of our lives, and is considered a big problem when it comes to time management and finishing tasks. We investigated what happens in a classroom setting when you set up contingencies that increase the likelihood of students reading before class, and compared participation in the interteaching arrangement and exam performance. This was combined with a pre- and post-test of procrastination and an internal external scale test. The two tests were implemented to give a broader picture of each individuals own assessment of their behavior.


Historical and Present Joint Scientific Enterprise between Economics and Behavioral Analysis.

INGUNN SANDAKER (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences  )

Social sciences, like political science,economics, sociology and psychology do not share a common technical language like the natural sciences. In 1948, Jacob Marschak, leader of the Cowles Commission of Economics, addressed B.F. Skinner saying that in their efforts to understand the economic responses of human choice they have done this "so far without obtaining any help from psychologists". From the correspondence between the two they concluded that "both fields (economics and psychology) have much to gain from the study of their mutual relations". In 1955, later Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon addressed the contribution of psychology to "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice", but he concluded that the distance between the knowledge of the two scientific fields was too great. In this presentation we will discuss some theoretical issues raised by the discussion between B.F. Skinner and J. Marschak.




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