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 #76
CE Offered: BACB — 
Ethics for the Rest of Us: Impact of Cultural Differences in the Practice of Ethics
Sunday, May 29, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Columbus Hall AB, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Karen Chung (Special Learning, Inc. )
Discussant: Jon S. Bailey (Florida State University)
CE Instructor: Jon S. Bailey, Ph.D.
Abstract: How do cultural differences affect the practice of ethics? How do Board Certified Behavior Analysts who practice outside the U.S. define ethics? Are there country-specific challenges that arise and how can we handle these challenges? What about cultural and religious differences? In an era where access to someone living across the world is literally only a click away, subtle and not-so-subtle boundaries exist, particularly as it pertains to what is considered culturally acceptable. Even among countries that may seem homogenous (i.e. America and Canada), significant differences do exist that can and should affect how behavior analysts practice and make decisions in the field. The most common challenge faced by behavior analysts across borders, in both developed and developing countries, are related to misrepresentation and unethical practices. In some cases, the “right” answer appears straightforward, however, the cultural norms of different regions make doing the “right” things more challenging for behavior analysts practicing outside the U.S. The group will begin our discussion by talking about the implications of cultural differences in the practice of ethics by sharing their own experiences. The group will also engage in a group discussion to begin to construct a high level framework that behavior analysts can use as a tool to help them make practical, ethically correct decisions independently.
Talking About Ethics, eh? A Canadian Perspective on Multicultural Issues
ROSEMARY A. CONDILLAC (Brock University)
Abstract: There are different ethical challenges that arise in different parts of Canada, including our work with individuals from first nations communities, remote locations where direct supervision becomes a significant challenge, etc. Canada self-defines itself as multi-cultural, and as such, encourages New Canadians to stay true to their culture of origin and bring their traditions with them with the caveat that they not contravene Federal, Provincial, or Municipal Law or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is an expectation of cultural acceptance, and typically training is provided to practitioners to increase their cultural sensitivity. Some aspects of the Ethical Code for Behaviour Analysts are inconsistent with cultural norms, and in some cases tediously so. As an example, small token gifts of appreciation are inherent in many cultures and professions, but completely forbidden in ABA practice. Language barriers often require the use of interpreters in the delivery of services; unfortunately, some interpreters bring cultural biases and put a cultural spin on the discussion that can impact service delivery. Further, the lack of professional designation for Behaviour Analysts in regulatory bodies makes them subject to institutional rules and policies that may conflict with our Code of Conduct. During this session, content will be covered through discussion of ethical dilemmas and how to deal with “tricky” situations in a manner that is consistent with the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts yet is practical in application.
Ethics in Third World Countries
MOLLY OLA PINNEY (Global Autism Project)
Abstract: It is common knowledge that there is an acute shortage of qualified behavior analysts in the world. According to the most recent numbers from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), there are approximately 20,000 Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) in the world; of those, only 8% live outside the U.S. With an estimated 70 million people around the world with Autism, this means that there are only 1/3 of 1% qualified experts available to meet this growing need. As more and more organizations spring up that attempt to overcome this issue by putting in place systemic methods that can be self-sustaining, we must acknowledge that important culture and language differences significantly hamper the way behavior analysts are able to do their jobs in a manner that is consistent with the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. As an example, when dealing with developing countries where commonly held belief is that a child with autism is “possessed,” questions arise regarding how must time a behavior analyst can and should spend educating parents and educators on non-technical skills when their primary “job” is to use their skills to change the lives of as many children with autism as possible and “every moment is priceless.” Other growing dilemma is to determine what happens after the fact. Within a very compressed period of time, there is only so much training one can impart to people who will be actually doing the work. In the U.S. we are beginning to see standards and qualifications put in place for people who implement ABA. However, given the relative “prevalence” of qualified behavior therapists capable of supervising cases, ongoing training and case supervision is a means that we can use to maintain quality control. Outside the U.S., even developed countries do not have sufficient number of behavior analysts to make this model feasible. How do we solve this global dilemma in a manner that can generate immediate results while we look for a long-terms solution? During this session, we will bring to light not only ethical situations facing the profession of behavior analytics but also begin a dialogue to create a paradigm shift that can affect global, long-term, sustainable change.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh