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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Symposium #84
Conceptual and Methodological Topics in Cultural Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 29, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Montreux, Swissotel
Area: CSE/OBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Mark A. Mattaini (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)

The field of behavior analysis and related disciplines offer much to promote behavioral solutions to socially significant practices within large social units like cultures. Conceptual analyses have advanced ahead of empirical work and the field has many opportunities for research and development. The papers in this symposium aid organizational leaders to create and explore models for stewardship of communities and cultures. Exploration opens opportunities for innovation while social units adjust to growing social upheaval, technological advances, and environmental concerns, as well as crises in the global economy, health, education, and environment.

From Conceptualization to Methodologies and Applications
RAMONA HOUMANFAR (University of Nevada, Reno), Amber Marie Candido (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Recent trends interrelating the global economy and socially significant practices (related to health, education and sustainability, etc.) highlight the role of leadership and related behaviors (e.g., decision making) as among the key factors influencing cultural change. By drawing upon these points, this presentation will provide a set of opening comments for the symposium on Conceptual and Methodological Topics in Cultural Behavior Analysis which is designed to aid organizations and leaders to create new methodologies and models of stewardship and provide opportunities for innovation while adjusting to growing global issues, as well as national crises in health, education, and environment.
Using Behavior Analytic Concepts to Produce Systemic Change at Scale in a Large Research University
DOUGLAS ROBERTSON (Florida International University), Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Abstract: Student retention and on-time graduation have become key metrics for public universities’ performance and are now typically an important part of performance-based funding and institutional rating systems. Supporting undergraduates is not only the right thing to do, but it has become critical to universities’ base budgets, particularly for public universities. We discuss a national awarding winning, university-wide set of systemic interventions, called the Graduation Success Initiative (GSI). The GSI transforms the administration of the undergraduate curriculum and reorients the university toward undergraduate student success at a large, public, metropolitan, research university. The GSI’s systemic interventions are complex and extensive and have produced a 16 point increase in on-time graduation in its first 4 years, a significant turnaround from the institution’s historical low to its historical high. In previous papers, we have concentrated on systems of interlocking contingencies and metacontingencies that influence the behavior of individual students, advisors, and executive leadership. In this paper, we concentrate on another key systemic element in the interventions—faculty in gateway courses. We will address the challenge of improving the performance of 17 high-enrollment, high-failure, high-impact gateway courses that produce over 41,000 enrollments and represent a significant barrier in students’ progress.

Selection of Business Practices in the Midst of Evolving Complexity

MARIA E. MALOTT (Association for Behavior Analysis International)

Cultural and organizational change involves unique configuration of events, complex interrelations between dynamic systems, and non-recurring interlocking behavior of individuals. Manipulating operant behavior is not sufficient to address these type of phenomena. Behavior systems analysts bring the scientific and philosophical environmental determinism foundations to the understanding and management of complex phenomena. In this presentation I will explore the difference between cultural cusps and metacontingencies and their implication for behavior analysis and complex cultural change.

Analysis of the Behavior and Organizational Practices Relevant to Climate Change
MARK P. ALAVOSIUS (Praxis2LLC), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno), William D. Newsome (Fit Learning), Anthony Biglan (Oregon Research Institute)
Abstract: There is no doubt within peer-reviewed science about the seriousness of global climate change (IPCC, 2007; 2014). A number of disciplines converge to show climate change is happening now, the rate of change is accelerating and human activities (e.g., use of fossil fuels) following the Industrial Revolution are a major driver of that change. Many ask - Can humans change deeply established lifestyle behaviors in time to halt or slow global warming? Can humans across the globe cooperate to address collectively the greatest threat to humanity and avert strife over limited resources? If not, will humans adapt to habitats created by climate change and learn to live within sustainable boundaries? A science of the behavior of individuals is relatively clear about the contingencies that influence individuals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and behavior analysis has made significant contributions to our understanding. But, in the absence of evidence on strategies for influencing entire populations, this research is having little impact on the problem. This talk outlines a theoretical account of the relevant behavior of individuals and the practices of organizations. The challenge ahead for the behavioral science community is to do the extensive and difficult systems research needed to pinpoint the variables that will bring about massive, yet crucial, changes in individual behavior and organizational action. The challenge may seem to exceed the skill set and resources of the behavior science community. The ideals, perseverance, and success in solving all of the other problems addressed in applications suggest that this community may be the last best hope for the behavioral sciences to address what may ultimately prove to be the biggest challenge to well‐being that humans have ever faced.



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