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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Tutorial #287
The Courage to Actively Care for People and their Environment: How Behavior Analysis Can Do More to Save the World
Sunday, May 24, 2009
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
West 301 CD
Area: CSE; Domain: Theory
Chair: Michael Weinberg (Orlando Behavior Health Services, LLC)
Presenting Authors: : E. SCOTT GELLER (Virginia Tech)

In the 1960's, researchers and teachers of applied behavior analysis (ABA) were optimistic they had a practical technology for dramatically improving quality of life wherever and whenever behavior is relevant. "Saving the World with ABA" was a common theme at the Midwestern Association of Behavior Analysis, now ABAI. Successful applications of ABA were evidenced in schools, hospitals, prisons, businesses and throughout entire communities. What happened? While ABA researchers continue to demonstrate beneficial impact on behavior in select settings, our science and technology has fallen far short of its world-saving potential. The number of behavior analysts who teach and research the large-scale and life-improving applications of ABA has seemingly decreased markedly. This presentation will inspire a reconsideration of how ABA can save the world, and suggest strategies for applying our science and technology on a larger scale in diverse domains. After specifying basic principles of ABA, the presenter will show their direct relevance to various societal problems and situations. Then, specific ways to increase community-wide acceptability and appreciation of ABA will be considered. Finally, the presenter will discuss the relevance of courage and compassion in realizing the potential of ABA to save the world. The need for more "actively caring" will be addressed, as well as how applications of behavior analysis can increase actively caring throughout families, organizations, communities, and beyond. This is the theme of the presenter's latest book, coauthored by Bob Veazie and entitled The Courage Factor: Leading People-Based Culture Change. Copies of this storybook will be available at ABAI. E. Scott Geller, Alumni Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech (VT) has authored 31 books, 43 book chapters, 38 training manuals, 203 magazine articles, and over 350 research articles addressing the development and evaluation of behavior-change interventions to improve quality of life. His extramural grant funding, totaling more than $6 million, has involved the application of behavioral science to benefit corporations, institutions, government agencies, or communities in general. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the World Academy of Productivity and Quality Sciences. He is past Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (1989-1992), current Associate Editor of Environment and Behavior (since 1982), and current Consulting Editor for Behavior and Social Issues, the Behavior Analyst Digest, the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and the Journal of Safety Research. In 1982, Scott Geller received a teaching award from the American Psychological Association, and since then won every university teaching award offered at VT. In 2001, VT awarded him the University Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. In 2002, VT honored him with the Alumni Outreach Award for exemplary real-world applications of behavioral science; and in 2003, he was awarded the University Alumni Award for Graduate Student Advising. In 2005, Dr. Geller was awarded the Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education. And last May 2007, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Organizational Behavior Management Network.

E. SCOTT GELLER (Virginia Tech)



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