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

Previous Page


Symposium #303
CE Offered: BACB
Cultural and Social Behavior in Behavioral Perspective
Monday, May 30, 2016
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Montreux, Swissotel
Area: CSE/TPC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Mitch Fryling (California State University, Los Angeles)
CE Instructor: Mitch Fryling, Ph.D.

This symposium consists of three papers, each of which focuses on the behavioral analysis of cultural and social behavior. The first presentation, by Linda Parrott Hayes, focuses on cultural behavior, specifically describing its unique features relative to other types of behavior. Particular emphasis is placed on the arbitrary nature of cultural behavior, as well as it's artificiality, adequacy and inconsistency. Also addressed are conditions under which cultural behavior is acquired, modified and eliminated, along with their implications for social order. The second presentation, by Mitch Fryling, describes an analysis of interpersonal relationships, especially interpersonal closeness and conflict. Emphasis is placed on behavioral processes involved in observational learning, stimulus substitution and stimulus-stimulus relations more broadly, and the observation of another person's thoughts. The practical implications of this analysis for both educational and therapeutic interventions are provided. Finally, the third presentation, by Genevieve DeBernardis, focuses on community behavior, and in particular on the extent to which coordinated patterns of behavior contribute to eco-friendly practices.

Keyword(s): Cultural Behavior, Social Issues
Cultural Behavior
LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: While each individual’s full psychological make-up is uniquely configured, some of its patterns are shared with other members of the groups in which the individual is a participant. Some of these shared patterns are attributable to common ecological circumstances, while some are artificial in this regard. Conventional behaviors of the latter sort, namely cultural behaviors, are distinguished by the arbitrariness of their response forms as relates to the natural properties of the stimulating objects with which they are coordinated and by their non-universal distribution across the population. These distinctions speak to the means and conditions under which cultural behaviors are acquired, as well as the type of organism capable of exhibiting behavior of this type. This paper examines the nature of cultural behavior including its artificiality, arbitrariness, adequacy and inconsistency as exemplified in religious belief. Also addressed are conditions under which cultural behavior is acquired, modified and eliminated, along with their implications for social order.
Conceptualizing Interpersonal Closeness and Conflict
MITCH FRYLING (California State University, Los Angeles)
Abstract: Interpersonal relationships are central to the day-to-day lives of humans. Helping professionals spend a considerable amount of time on these relationships while working with clients, including the improvement of impaired relationships, enhancement of existing relationships, and the development of new relationships. In addition, the therapeutic relationship, which is also an interpersonal relationship, has been of interest to many helping professionals. This presentation describes a behavior analytic conceptualization of interpersonal relationships, including factors that contribute to the development of “close” or intimate relationships as well as those which contribute to interpersonal conflict. In particular, processes associated with observation, stimulus-stimulus relations, stimulus substitution, and the observation of thoughts are considered. This conceptualization is contrasted with traditional, mentalistic ways of thinking about the topic. Special emphasis is given to factors that may be isolated during educational and therapeutic interventions.
The Role of the Community in Eco-Conscious Change
GENEVIEVE M. DEBERNARDIS (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: It is becoming increasingly important that communities protect and improve upon the environment that surrounds them. However, the challenge with creating rapid social change in response to environmental issues is that many of the consequences of eco-positive behavior are significantly delayed. In addition, these behaviors require coordinated efforts of individuals in the community in order to provide a lasting impact. Despite these barriers, some communities have had great success in promoting and sustaining eco-friendly behavior. One example of this is the elimination of littering. This paper will cover examples of communities that have been successful in instilling the principle of “leaving no trace” in their culture. Examples will range from large, permanent cities to small, temporary gatherings of people. The success of these communities will be discussed from a behavior analytic perspective, concluding with ways in which behavior analysts can expand and improve upon these approaches.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh