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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Special Event #61
SQAB Tutorial: What "Reinforcers" Do to Behavior, II: Signposts to the Future
Saturday, May 29, 2010
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
007CD (CC)
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Presenting Authors: : MICHAEL C. DAVISON (University of Auckland)
Abstract: Over the last few years, it has become increasingly evident that the process of reinforcement may well have been misnamed and misunderstood. Events like contingent food for a hungry animal do not simply increase or maintain the probability of responses that they follow, they don't strengthen behavior. Rather, they may act as signposts to future events, guiding behavior through the learned physical and temporal maze of life. This signposting is not to be seen as additional to these events as reinforcers; Signposting is the reinforcement effect. This realization puts reinforcement right back into the purview of stimulus control. Events that we usually consider "reinforcers", on the other hand, have more or less value to the organism-so, signposting is additional to value. Thus, the next step is to ask whether organismically-valuable stimuli have any special properties when they signal future events. I will briefly discuss some research that starts the process of experimentally investigating what food delivery can, and cannot, signal in the time following such an event. I will try to reorganize some of what we think we know in these terms, and to suggest how this approach may provide a new understanding of behavior-analytic practice.
MICHAEL C. DAVISON (University of Auckland)
Michael was raised in the UK and completed his BSc (Hons) in Psychology at Bristol University. He then came to New Zealand on a Commonwealth Scholarship and completed his PhD (on punishment) at Otago University, and stayed there for a year as a lecturer. He then spent a year as lecturer at University College London before returning to New Zealand and taking a lectureship at Auckland University, where he has remained, moving up through the ranks to full professor in 1987. He was given a DSc for research in 1982, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1987, and received a Silver Medal for research from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2001. He has been Associate Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and has served many terms on the editorial board of that journal. He currently holds appointments as a Research Associate at The Liggins Institute, and in the National Research Centre for Growth and Development. His interests are in the quantitative analysis of choice, both from a theoretical perspective and, more recently, as applied to developmental influences on learning.



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