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.


46th Annual Convention; Online; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #106
CE Offered: BACB — 
Diversity submission We ARE Acting to Save the World: Behavior Analysis Addresses Systems-Level Problems
Saturday, May 23, 2020
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Area: CSS/PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: Richard F. Rakos (Cleveland State University)
Discussant: Richard F. Rakos (Cleveland State University)
CE Instructor: Sarah M. Richling, Ph.D.

Skinner (1987) stressed that acting to solve the world’s problems required changing the environment of which the problem-solving behavior is a function. In the ensuing decades since he called on behavior analysts to become more involved in system level change, the relevant environment did change – e.g., the introduction of new or stronger journals, organizations, researchers, grant programs, etc. – and behavior analysis matured into a discipline that now applies its theoretical and methodological approach to the remediation of social and cultural problems. This symposium presents a sample of current behavior analytic work addressing systems-level change, with presenters drawn from chapter authors of the forthcoming book Behavior science perspectives on culture and community (Mattaini & Cihon, Eds.). Presenters will discuss behavior analytic advances in promoting environmentally sustainable practices, moderating problematic climate change via both community organizing models and working with the corporate sector, fostering social justice through research and clinical practice, and engaging in activism and advocacy efforts to promote progressive social change. The four topics are interrelated with each other and, combined with discussant remarks and 20 minutes for audience questions, will offer a rich introduction or update to cutting edge applications of behavior analysis to saving the world

Target Audience:

Graduate students and professionals

Diversity submission 

Taking Our Seat at the Table: Behavior Analysis and the Advancement of Global Sustainability

BRETT GELINO (University of Kansas), Tyler Erath (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (University of Kansas)

The humans of today are among the most important to share the Earth. The efforts that lay ahead—reducing our carbon footprint, preserving our natural landscapes, drastically changing our resource consumption—are likely to yield outcomes we may never directly experience. Although technological ingenuity will be critical, efforts by behavioral scientists to encourage sustainable lifestyles will be among the leading means by which to proactively maintain Earth’s habitability. In this vein, behavior analysis has a rich history of work promoting sustainable living. We conducted a systematic review of behavior analytic research in sustainability using key phrases derived from leading climate and Earth science reports (e.g., Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). We coded the resulting fifty-two empirical studies published across six primarily behavior analytic journals according to intervention methods and target behavior to reveal gaps in the existing literature. The goals of this presentation will thusly be to (a) summarize the efforts of behavior analysis to-date in the areas of sustainable living, (b) highlight areas for which empirical research is lacking, and (c) highlight areas where future behavior analysts can make the most meaningful contribution to advance global sustainability

Diversity submission 

Global Warming: Behavior Options Ahead As We Approach Two Degree Celsius Limit

MARK P. ALAVOSIUS (Praxis2LLC; University of Nevada, Reno)

Global warming (GW) will continue to accelerate unless exceptional efforts are taken soon to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. Increasingly dire consequences are apparent now across the globe. GW is a behavioral problem at its root -- a "super wicked problem" whose solutions seem unsolvable within the time available for action. A science of the behavior of individuals is relatively clear about the contingencies that influence individuals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and behavior analysis has made significant contributions to our understanding but has little impact on the problem, given the lack of evidence on strategies for influencing entire populations. This talk outlines a theoretical account of the behavior of individuals and the practices of organizations relevant to the trajectory ahead. The challenge for the behavioral science community is to identify, understand and manage the variables that will bring about massive, crucial changes in individual behavior and organizational action to prevent further warming or help prepare for what lies ahead. Prevention may be beyond behavior science community skill set, but successes in applications of behavior analysis suggest that this community may be orchestrated to address behaviors needed for adaptation to a warming planet and resilience during climate crises.

Diversity submission Creating Spaces for Social Justice
SHAHLA SUSAN ALA'I (University of North Texas)
Abstract: We are a collective of faculty and students in a community of practice designed to learn about social justice. Our disciplines are Applied Behavior Analysis, Women’s and Gender Studies, Applied Anthropology and Evolutionary Anthropology. Our personal identities are diverse and complicated. We gather formally about once a week to have conversations that are placed in the context of our daily lives and scholarship. In our conversations, we introduce and explore our conceptual, methodological and praxis perspectives. The conceptualizations we share are based within a fluid framework involving womanist, behaviorist and anthropological constructs. Our methods are participatory and include direct observation and qualitative strategies. The praxis is our daily effort, activism, and applied research. All these efforts have resulted in a collective shaping process that has progressed our understandings and actions in the realm of social justice. It is an uncomfortable and cherished space.
Diversity submission 

How Behavioral Scientists Find Their Global Voice: Activism, Advocacy, Accompaniment, and Policy Change

SARAH M. RICHLING (Auburn University), Jose Ardila (University of Nevada)

A wide array of populations and communities are trapped in complex, multi-level systems of interlocked behaviors that offer no clear path toward dignity and social justice. The impact behavior analysts can have with progressive social change is enhanced through the strategic adoption of three key repertoires: activism, advocacy, and accompaniment (AAA) and a thorough analysis of evidence-based policy change efforts. Understood as value-oriented practices whose effects are primarily observed at the systems level, activist activities involve building knowledge about issues impacting various social communities and engaging in on-going efforts to improve the quality of life on a large scale. Advocacy and accompaniment actions are functionally related to these values, which are discrete plans of action with specific operationalized outcomes. AAA efforts may be enhanced with support from the behavior analytic community, armed with evidence-based strategies that effectively produce policy change, and more importantly, improvements to quality of life for society at large. In this presentation we provide a conceptual analysis of social change efforts and provide suggestions for establishing systemic behavioral change as an aggregate product of the behavior analytic community.




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