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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #409
Genetic Heritability of Stage Performance and Occupational Interest Lends Support for a Genetic Mapping Project
Monday, May 27, 2019
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, Montreux 1-3
Area: DEV/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Michael Marie Commons (Harvard Medical School)
Abstract: In this symposium, three studies of development across different populations is discussed, with an emphasis on the genetic heritability of stage performance (referred to as “smarts”) and occupational interest. The papers utilize the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC) to discuss the behavioral developmental stages. The first paper demonstrates the increase of behavioral-developmental stage performance in non-literate adults to only half a stage below western educated adults’ after training with reinforcement. The results support the notion that stage performance is mostly genetic and not learned through years of education. The second paper discusses four different sources of knowledge in regards to how an individual thinks about truth. Individuals differ on their sources of knowledge depending on their behavioral-developmental stage. The study resulted in four major ways of “knowing”: analytical, anti-analytical, phenomenological (experiential), and empirical. This study shows the different approaches humans take in learning and understanding the world. In relation to both these above studies, the third paper proposes a genetic mapping project to locate the genes responsible for the “smarts” and interest in the consequence of completing work tasks (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, entrepreneurial and conventional).
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): analytical knowledge, developmental-stage change, genetic mapping, MHC

Training With Reinforcement Increased Stage of Performance in Non-Literate Adults to Just Half a Stage Below Educated Westerners'

(Applied Research)
AARATI RAGHUVANSHI (Dare Association, Inc)

To determine the highest behavioral-developmental stage in non-literate populations, 40 Nepalese adults were trained and tested on stage-based isolation-of-variables instruments (thatched roof problem and laundry problem). The thatched roof problem was a culturally based variant of the laundry problem. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups depending on the order of problems given (thatched roof first or laundry first). Correct answers were reinforced monetarily. The overall mean stage performance increased from M stage 8.98 (SD = 0.97) to M stage 9.18 (SD = 1.06) from training to transfer tasks. This transfer task performance was only half a stage lower than the behavioral-developmental stage educated westerns attain (Commons & Davidson, 2015). The order in which the problems were presented had a statistically significant effect on stage score improvement F(1, 38) = 6.218, p = 0.017, η2 = 0.113. When the thatched roof problem was presented first, it led to greater stage score improvements. This could be because the thatched roof problem matched the participants’ cultural experience better than the laundry problem. The results highlight that content and reinforcement are important in assessing behavioral-developmental stage in cross-cultural populations. They also support the notion that stage performance is mostly genetic and not learned through education.


Ways of Knowing

(Basic Research)
Mansi Shah (Dare Association, Inc), SHUTONG WEI (Dare Association, Inc.)

Illusions have been a topic of research for decades. Kalderon posits that an illusion is “an experience of an object o appearing F, where o is not in fact F.” Commons describes illusions as “those instances where people report the appearance of stimuli in a way that distorts their physical properties”. Illusions influence perceptual understanding. Thus, they also distort truth and knowledge. Perturbations are changes that can potentially be observed. How they are perceived altered by their way of knowing. There are four major ways of “knowing”: a) Analytical knowledge is always true irrespective of "experience" or “data”; b) Anti-Analytical knowledge is not believing in “mathematical” or “logic” knowledge; c) Phenomenological which is experiential (Art, Law, Religion); d) Empirical include Science. Forty participants were asked about different sources of knowledge. They answered 77 questions on all forms of knowledge. A principle-components factor analysis on 77 items confirmed that there were 4 clear factors showing 3 positive ways of knowing and one negation of analytic. The four factors explained 54.39% of the total variance. Factor loadings ranged from .803 to .706.

Genotyping Smarts and Interests
ELIZA GOING (Dare Association, Inc)
Abstract: DNA sequence structure may underlie the factors that make up a person’s interests and “smarts”. Interests are defined as work pursuits that are reinforcing. They consist of five factors: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, entrepreneurial, and conventional. We have developed a test of “smarts” consisting of a series of problem-solving tasks as well as a scale measuring social perspective taking. The test determines the behavioral-development stage at which an individual performs (of the Model of Hierarchical Complexity). The results show that nonliterate, uneducated populations perform at roughly the same problem-solving level as literate, educated populations. Thus, intelligence is supported as a genetically determined characteristic, and unaffected by environmental factors. In addition to smarts, interests have a genetic basis. This supports the notion that interests are heritable. If smarts and interests are inherited genetically, they must be associated with specific genes. We propose that by including our smarts and interest scales as follow-up surveys to buyers of DNA genetic testing kits, and comparing those results to the participants' genotyped DNA, we will be able to locate genes that determine human beings' smarts and interests.



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