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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Special Event #38
SQAB Tutorial: The Molar View of Self-Control
Saturday, May 23, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
103AB (CC)
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Leonard Green (Washington University)
Presenting Author: HOWARD RACHLIN (State University of New York Stony Brook), William M. Baum (University of California, Davis)

A problem in self-control arises when an organism chooses between one activity strongly induced by short-term reinforcers and a second activity weakly induced by long-term reinforcers but more beneficial in the long term. The short-term, strongly induced activity is called impulsivity, and the long-term, weakly induced activity is called self-control. Impulsivity and self-control have usually been studied as they affect discounting: delay discounting, probability discounting, and social discounting. Although discounting affords measures of impulsivity relative to self-control, discounting as a representation of real-world choice is unrealistic, because discounting applies only to discrete events like receiving a sum of money or a cigarette. Real-world consequences like good health or sobriety occur over long periods of time, not at specific moments. A more realistic, molar, view of impulsivity and self-control takes them as bad and good habits extended in time. Seen this way, a good or bad habit may be described as a conflict of time frames: Consequences evaluated in a short time frame are opposite to consequences evaluated in a long time frame. The molar view may be more useful than discounting for treatment--that is, discouraging bad habits and encouraging good habits.

HOWARD RACHLIN (State University of New York Stony Brook), William M. Baum (University of California, Davis)
Howard Rachlin obtained a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 1965. He is currently a research professor and an emeritus distinguished professor of psychology at Stony Brook University. He has published more than 100 articles, written six books including Behavior and Mind (1994) and The Science of Self-Control (2000), and edited two others. His most recent book is The Escape of the Mind (2014). He has served on study sections for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He is on the editorial boards of six journals. His research (on choice, self-control, social cooperation, and experimental economics) has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation including an NIH merit award. Among other honors he has been elected fellow at ABAI, the American Psychological Society and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. He has received a James McKeen Cattell fellowship (1975-76) and an award for the impact of science on application from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (2005). He was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (1988-89) and an invited speaker at the Nobel Symposium on Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Stockholm, Sweden (2001).
Keyword(s): discounting, impulsivity, molar view, self-control



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