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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #479
CE Offered: BACB
Addressing Social Issues as Behavior Analysts: Avoiding the Anti-Science Trap
Monday, May 30, 2022
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 156C
Area: PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles)
CE Instructor: Michele D. Wallace, Ph.D.

I think we could all agree it is an exciting time to be a behavior analysts, especially as we broaden our reach beyond just addressing behavioral deficits and excesses in dependent populations. However, as we expand our science in application not just theoretical accounts, we must continue to define and utilize our science and scientific methodology. Doing so may be challenging, but this in the symposium we seek to model and provide examples of doing just that. In the first presentation, we will discuss some of the current challenges facing the field of behavior analysis and provide a way forward. In the second presentation, we will provide a functional analysis of the term discrimination and provide some direction for how to address variables that may contribute to discrimination. The third presentation, will tackle not only the term risk as it applied to our practice of behavior analysis, but also what it means for our practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Context, Discrimination, Risk
Target Audience:

Intermediate: participants should understand how to conduct a functional analysis with respect to concepts and terms

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to operationally define challenges facing the field of behavior analysis and to look at those challenges from a scientific view point. Participants will be able to take a functional analytic viewpoint when discussing sociological terms such as discrimination. Participants will be assess risk with respect to service provision and how to approach risk from a behavior analytic point of view.
Context Matters, Especially During Time of Potential Conflict
RACHEL TAYLOR (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis ), Richard Colombo (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis), Amanda C. Nicolson (Center for ABA), Benjamin Thomas Heimann (CABA), Elizabeth Ashton Benedickt (The Center for Applied Behavior Analysis), Heidi Eilers (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis)
Abstract: The purpose of the current presentation is three-fold: 1) discuss some of the current primary challenges facing the field of behavior analysis, 2) propose a framework to help protect against a potential divide between science and practice, and 3) provide practical resources designed to decrease the likelihood for identified challenges to escalate towards unnecessary conflict. Numerous practice-oriented examples are provided and discussed with respect to a) societal-level stressors (e.g., the pandemic, social injustice, and related implications for ABA practitioners), and b) field-specific stressors (e.g., a recent increase in public opposition to ABA and related potential misconceptions). This presentation will emphasize the importance of relying on the science of human behavior across all professional interactions, especially under conditions of elevated stress. An additional aim of this article is to discuss the importance of ensuring a mutually agreed upon understanding for that which defines “science”. Related practical resources are also included, each designed to mitigate conflict regarding current stressors and related challenges.

Sociological Terms: How Behavior Analysts can remain Scientific When Dealing With Unclear Terms and Data

RICHARD COLOMBO (Center for Applied Behavior Analysis), Michele D. Wallace (California State University, Los Angeles Center for Applied Behavior Analysis)

Treating psychological terms as verbal behavior and analyzing them with respect to environmental determiners was novel in 1945 when Skinner first presented his idea of a functional analysis of verbal behavior (Skinner, 1945). Seventy-six years later, this approach has yet to be fully appreciated even within behavior analysis (Schlinger, 2013). In recent years, terms such as diversity and equity have become increasingly popular, not only in sociology and psychology, but in behavior analysis as well. Analyzing these terms as instances of verbal behavior, could open new lines of research and opportunities for discussion—minimizing the potential for disciplinary redundancy and offering unique data to other disciplines (Kantor, 1953). The purpose of this presentation is to provide a functional analysis of the term discrimination, discuss recent studies on the term


A Behavior Analytic Perspective on Risk

David Legaspi (Center For Applied Behavior Analysis)

Risk is typically thought of as exposure to dangerous stimuli or loss. It is assumed that we collectively agree on what constitutes risk, but accurately identifying dangerous stimuli and loss appears to be increasingly complex. There are several questions that need to be considered to accurately identify risk as it relates to risk assessment and intervention. Is it possible to have an objective viewpoint that clearly points to what constitutes risk? What are the conditions under which risk occur? What are the conditions under which risk should be avoided? Is it possible to identify behaviors that successfully avoid risk? Is avoiding risk always the best option? Is it our moral and ethical responsibility to engineer conditions that result in humans avoiding risk? These questions will be analyzed and discussed from a behavior analytic perspective.




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