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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Invited Panel #443
CE Offered: PSY
The Real Evolutionary Psychology: Nature-Nurture, Behavior Analysis, and the Systems Approach
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: TPC/DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Susan M. Schneider (University of the Pacific)
CE Instructor: Susan M. Schneider, Ph.D.
Panelists: SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (University of the Pacific), TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (Reed College), HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)

Nature and nurture always work together. Genetic determinism in any form is not a viable concept. Evolution is a continuous process. Do contemporary "evolutionary psychologists" give these facts more than lip service? Some talk as if human behavior is determined (somehow) by genes that were selected 10,000 years ago and unchanged since then. Many evolutionary psychology observations can be explained more parsimoniously by the principles of behavior, mediated by a nervous system, that have been selected for just such plasticity. Indeed, behavior is both a product and a driver of evolution. Then, there are the implications of the immense flexibility in the larger biobehavioral system. The "systems" approach offers an evidence based alternative encompassing everything, including the many complex, nonlinear interactions across all levels of behavior and its development. This panel discussion compares the typical views of evolutionary psychologists with the systems approach and explores where behavior analysis fits in.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and others interested in evolutionary psychology.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) describe scientific weaknesses in typical evolutionary psychology claims; (2) explain how systems theory encompasses the entire biobehavioral system, including complex, nonlinear interactions across all levels; (3) describe how behavior principles influence and are influenced by the other system variables; (4) describe the similarities between behavior analysis and the systems approach.
SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (University of the Pacific)
Schneider's involvement in behavior analysis goes back to high school when she read Beyond Freedom and Dignity and wrote B. F. Skinner, never dreaming that he would reply.  They corresponded through her master's degree in mechanical engineering at Brown, her engineering career, and her stint in the Peace Corps.  At that point Schneider bowed to the inevitable and switched careers, obtaining her Ph.D. in 1989 (University of Kansas).  A research pioneer, she was the first to apply the generalized matching law to sequences and to demonstrate operant generalization and matching in neonates.  Her publications also cover the history and philosophy of behavior analysis and the neglected method of sequential analysis.  Schneider has championed the inclusive "developmental systems" approach to nature‑nurture relations, culminating in reviews in JEAB and The Behavior Analyst, and she has served on the editorial boards for both of those journals.  Her book, The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World, summarizes the field of operant behavior, its larger nature-nurture context, and its full range of applications.  It earned a mention in the journal Nature, was a selection of the Scientific American Book Club, and won the 2015 SABA Media Award.
Tim Hackenberg received a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine in 1982 and a doctorate in Psychology from Temple University in 1987, under the supervision of Philip Hineline. He held a post-doctoral research position at the University of Minnesota with Travis Thompson from 1988-90. He served on the faculty in the Behavior Analysis program at the University of Florida from 1990-2009, and is currently a Professor of Psychology at Reed College in Portland Oregon. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, of the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior, as Associate Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, as President of Division 25 of the American Psychological Association, as the Experimental Representative to the ABAI Council, and as the Director of the ABAI Science Board. His major research interests are in the area of behavioral economics and comparative cognition, with a particular emphasis on decision-making and social behavior. In work funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, he and his students have developed procedures for cross-species comparisons of behavior. He is blessed with a talented cadre of students, and has the good fortune to teach courses he cares about.
HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)
Henry D. (Hank) Schlinger Jr. received his Ph.D. in psychology (applied behavior analysis) from Western Michigan University under the supervision of Jack Michael. He then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology with Alan Poling. He was a full tenured professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. He is now professor of psychology and former director of the M.S. Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Schlinger has published numerous scholarly articles and commentaries in 25 different journals. He also has authored or co-authored three books, Psychology: A Behavioral Overview (1990), A Behavior-Analytic View of Child Development (1995) (which was translated into Japanese), and Introduction to Scientific Psychology (1998). He is a past editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and The Behavior Analyst, and on the editorial boards of several other journals. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
Keyword(s): Evolution



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