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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Special Event #540
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Presidential Address: The Future of Behavior Analysis: Foxes and Hedgehogs Revisited
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Grand Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Martha Hübner (University of São Paulo)
CE Instructor: M. Jackson Marr, Ph.D.

Presidential Address: The Future of Behavior Analysis: Foxes and Hedgehogs Revisited


Some twenty-five years ago The Behavior Analyst published a paper by David Rider entitled “The speciation of behavior analysis.” By applying a selectionist analysis, including analogs with basic science and engineering, Rider predicted that basic and applied behavior analysis were destined to become independent species. In a commentary on this paper, Dr. Marr pointed out that scientists and engineers are interdependent, especially at the frontiers of application. He was sanguine about a continuing analogous relationship between basic and applied behavior analysis. However, especially in the last decade, indications are that basic and applied behavior analysis may indeed be emerging as distinct species. In a review of what Dr. Marr calls the “literature of survival,” he discuss several themes addressing the evolving complex relations between basic and applied behavior analysis, including constraints on training leading to a narrow spectrum of applications, our often self-imposed isolation from those with whom we could productively collaborate, and the difficulties of obtaining sufficient support for our science. All these challenges reflect a briar-patch of interlocking contingencies; each one depends crucially on the others and we cannot effectively address any in isolation. Thus solutions will not be easy, but our long-term survival as a coherent discipline depends on finding some.

M. JACKSON MARR (Georgia Tech)
Marcus Jackson (Jack) Marr received the BS degree in 1961 from Georgia Tech, where he studied mathematics, physics, and psychology He received a Ph.D. in experimental psychology with a minor in physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1966. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Georgia Tech, where he has taught courses in the experimental analysis of behavior, physiology and behavior, behavioral pharmacology, and probability and statistics. He is one of five founding Fellows of ABAI, a Fellow of the Psychonomics Society, a Fellow of Divisions 3 and 25 of the American Psychological Association (APA) and currently Division 25 Council Representative. He was also past president of both ABAI and Division 25. He is currently review editor for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and has been editor of Behavior and Philosophy, co-editor of Revista Mexicana de Análisis de la Conducta, and associate editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Behavior Analyst. He was experimental representative to the Executive Council of ABAI, served on the board of directors of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (SQAB), and currently serves on the board of trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He has been active in the international support and development of behavior analysis in Europe, Mexico, China, and the Middle East. He was a research fellow in pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, a visiting professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and an Eminent Scholar at Jacksonville State University. He was a Navy contractor for Project Sanguine in a study of possible behavioral effects of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. As an AIEE Senior Fellow at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, he conducted research on the effects of microwaves as reinforcers of operant behavior and the effects of stimulant drugs on sustained military flight performance. His primary research interests have included: the development of instructional systems for teaching engineering physics, behavior dynamics, mathematics as verbal behavior, comparative behavior analysis, complex skill acquisition, problem solving, assessment methods for engineering and science education, and theoretical/conceptual issues in behavioral analysis.
Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists, certified behavior analysts, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) describe the history of predictions regarding the future of behavior analysis—the "literature of survival"—from a selectionist perspective; (2) list and briefly discuss the main themes driving this literature—basic vs. applied behavior analysis, training, isolation, and support; (3) specify the major challenges and their possible solutions impacting the future of behavior analysis as a coherent discipline.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh