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 #324
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Developments and Applications of the Conceptual Analysis of Behavior Across Europe
Monday, May 30, 2016
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
St. Gallen, Swissotel
Area: TPC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Robert C. Mellon (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences)
Discussant: Ricardo Pellon (Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia)
CE Instructor: Robert C. Mellon, Ph.D.

Across Europe the science and practice of behavior analysis are far less developed than in North America, but youth does have its charms: as we are few in number, our meetings are necessarily characterized by high levels of interaction among basic and applied researchers investigating a wide range of behavioral processes and practitioners servicing a rich variety of human needs. Indeed, in Europe the core aspects of the repertoires of basic scientist, applied researcher, practitioner and philosopher of science often emerge in the same individual. It is natural that in servicing a range of demands in various settings, the value of general principles of behavioral determination are fully appreciated; the papers in this symposium are examples of the fruits of such an appreciation emerging in the esprit de corps of the small but growing band of European behaviorists. They show how a comprehensive or molecular analysis of fundamental processes inherent in such phenomena as behavioral variability and aversive control can enhance the effectiveness of educational and clinical intervention, and how the application of such principles in the functional classification and publically-funded treatment of behavior problems can bring the full joy of social living to more of our deserving fellow citizens.

New Developments in the Classification of Behavioral and Life Problems
MARTTI T. TUOMISTO (University of Tampere)
Abstract: From a behavior-analytic perspective the use of the current systems of problem diagnosis in the area that is traditionally called “mental health”, has been and is associated with a range of difficulties and inconsistencies such as the inability of them to give useful goals of treatment, accurate descriptions of behavior, and adequate predictive validity. In addition, the levels of analyses in these systems are mixed. The “Decimal System” of Behavior and Life Problems (DSBLP) was developed for the classification of behavioral problems and problems with life circumstances according to behavior-analytic concepts to get a comprehensive and functional tool to guide goal-setting and interventions in clinical behavior analysis, but also for the use of the positive side of the problems, strengths and skills in interventions. DSBLP has been used in the supervision of students of behavior analysis and therapy to give research basis for further development of the system. The new developments of DSBLP include the application of the system in other areas of applied behavior such as nutrition, behavioral medicine (generally and in dentistry), and speech therapy. The system classes, new developments and applications of the system as well as challenges and dissemination of the systems will be discussed.

Sources of Behavioral Variability

SIV KRISTIN NERGAARD (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Per Holth (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)

In the 2010 IBM "Working Beyond Borders" report, over 700 HR Executives worldwide recognized that the ability to develop future leaders with the creative skills able to adapt to a constantly changing environment, is the number one challenge for their company. A necessary, but not sufficient, component of creativity is behavioral variability and novelty. Evoking or suppressing variability is also of great importance when working with individuals characterized by abnormal levels of behavioral variability, e.g. autism, OCD and ADHD. The recognition that it is possible to modify novelty and variation by contingencies of reinforcement has had implications in several fields, e.g. problem solving, creativity and developmental disabilities. Still, the questions of what is being discriminated and what exactly is reinforced when novelty and variation is reinforced has yet to be answered, limiting clinical and educational effectiveness. In evolutionary biology the persistence of abundant genetic variation still remains a central problem, as with behavior variability in behavior analysis. Being able to affect behavioral variability and novelty by altering the contingencies is a great step forward, but there are several important questions that need answering regarding behavioral variability and novelty; these questions will be specified and addressed in the present conceptual analysis.


Problematic Thinking, Perceiving and Rule-Following as Unconscious Self-Control: A General-Process Interpretation

ROBERT C. MELLON (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences)

Behavior analysts efforts to provide natural-science interpretations of the phenomena known as dysfunctional cognition have been disproportional to the suffering and disability generated by these behavior patterns. Such patterns are here interpreted as a form of unconscious self-control: when people incipiently engage in activities that have been both reinforced and punished, they might then expose themselves to aversive stimuli (e.g., perceiving themselves as grossly overweight, as inadequate to task, as experiencing strokes, infections, property loss, etc.) as a means of generating biobehavioral events to be terminated by the subsequent emission of escape responses incompatible with the continuation of the reinforcing but censored act. Private acts will be more susceptible to adventitious reinforcement by the termination of self-produced warning signals for punishment, generating the otherwise nonsensical content characterizing dysfunctional cognition. Recent experimental studies with human and avian subjects support the present interpretation that self-exposure to aversive stimulation such as self-deprecation and threat-monitoring occurs at high rates when it terminates even more aversive warning signals, that such self-exposure more effectively generates escape when it occurs at greater temporal distances from the terminal reinforcers of punished acts, and that such termination of warning signals adventitiously reinforces the nonsensical stereotypic self-vocalization that characterizes psychopathology.


A Conceptual Analysis for Ensuring Efficacy, Efficiency, and Sustainability in Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention

PAOLO MODERATO (IULM & IESCUM), Giovambattista Presti (Kore University/IESCUM), Melissa Scagnelli (IESCUM)

The magnitude of demand for Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) creates severe problems whenever state welfare systems directly deliver treatment, as occurs in many European Union countries. How can we ensure effective behavioral intervention for as many children as possible when resources are limited? IESCUM, the Italian Chapter of ABAI, is trying to solve this problem by testing a conceptual model derived from the Italian Model for EIBI (the MIPIA). The core of the model is sustainability, a concept borrowed from economics and applied to the field of behavior analytic services delivery: it means finding the point known as good enough, i.e. the point at which it is possible to reach, on the basis of skills assessments of service recipients, and an efficient cost/benefit use of available resources. The practical implementation of this conceptual model began in 2011, and has proved to be effective and efficient in generating core behavioral repertoires in three age groups ranging from two to 16 years while maintaining financial sustainability, illustrating a fruitful compatibility in explanatory principles derived from economic theory and behavior analysis, and yielding a model of service provision that might be useful in state-run EIBI and other publically-funded behavioral services abroad.




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