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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Paper Session #519
Deconstructing the Attention Function
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
4:00 PM–4:20 PM
Grand Suite 3, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: DDA
Chair: Deric E. Toney (University of Nevada, Reno)
Deconstructing the Attention Function
Domain: Theory
DERIC E. TONEY (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Since Iwata et al. (1982), behavior analysts have adopted the functional analysis methodology that generally classifies the functions of behavior into four categories: attention, escape, access to tangibles, and automatic reinforcement. Concluding that behavior functions in order to access attention from others may be difficult to discern during many occurrences, being that any behavior that involves another person inherently includes attention. The concept of �attention� has yet to be appropriately defined within this application. As it stands, attention may be described as any response from another person. The loose conceptual confines of what is referred to as "attention" may result in the behavior analyst erroneously making environmental changes that are either ineffective or worse; result in more problems than are needed to successfully modify the targeted behavior. In order to adequately eradicate this issue, a clarification of the concept of "attention" is warranted. The present discussion addresses various treatments of the concept of attention within behavioral science as an aid in clarification for practitioners who utilize the functional analytic methodology in the treatment of challenging behavior.



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