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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Paper Session #48
OBM of Societal and Cultural Issues
Saturday, May 29, 2010
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
Republic A (Grand Hyatt)
Area: OBM
Chair: Carl M. Johnson (Central Michigan University)
Hawks Nest—America's Worst and Least Known Industrial Disaster
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
DWIGHT HARSHBARGER (Department of Community Medicine, West Virgina University)
Abstract: This photo-slide and documentary presentation will address decision-making in the construction of Hawks Nest Tunnel–America’s worst yet least-known industrial disaster. From 1930 to 1932, 5,000 unemployed men, two-thirds of them black, came to Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, for 25 cents-an-hour jobs digging Union Carbide’s 3.2 mile tunnel through Gauley Mountain. The tunnel carried the New River to electrical turbines generating power for company factories. Workers lived in segregated shanties and worked 60 hours a week to build the 46 feet-in-diameter tunnel. The center of the Gauley Mountain contained virtually pure silica. The contractor used “dry drilling;” i.e., no water from drills dampened the rock dust; often workers couldn’t see more than ten feet ahead. No protective respiratory masks were provided. Local residents estimated the number of deaths at over two thousand. A 1936 congressional investigation characterized Gauley Bridge as “the village of the walking dead.” A retrospective analysis by an epidemiologist estimated at least eight hundred tunnel workers died, most from acute silicosis, called “tunnelitis” by company doctors unfamiliar with silicosis. A cornfield became a makeshift cemetery for tunnel fatalities. Implications for current OBM practice will be discussed.
Organizational Behavioral Medicine
Domain: Theory
CARL M. JOHNSON (Central Michigan University), Melany Desrochers (Central Michigan University), Laura Lasley (Central Michigan University)
Abstract: Controversy regarding health care and behavior has been emerging for the past few years in the United States. Coupled with insurance reform, arguments erupted during town hall meetings during the summer of 2008. Behavior analysis offers expertise in a variety of health-care domains. However, ABAI and behavior analytic journals devote little space to this topic although behavior analysis has a long history of offering useful techniques in health-related behaviors such as increasing aerobic exercise, smoking cessation, incontinence solutions, healthy eating, etc. Private insurance and government sanctioned health care such as Medicaid and Medicare do not provide sufficient incentives for improving healthy behaviors for many individuals. We generally treat disease rather than prevent problems from developing. Moreover, if businesses and other organizations are to provide the bulk of health insurance in the United States in the near future, it appears critical for healthy behaviors to be strengthened for employees and their families. Both contingency-shaped and rule-governed behaviors appear critical to ameliorate many health problems. Behavior analysts need to rediscover an area that seems neglected by the field in recent years.
Variations in Organizational Behaviors and Selection of Organizational Culture
Domain: Theory
INGUNN SANDAKER (Akershus University College)
Abstract: The range of behavioral variation within systems is constrained by external and internal contingencies. Various constraints on variation and properties of the interaction between behavior and environment (e.g., contingencies of reinforcement) determine what behavioral repertoires are selected. Contingencies of reinforcement affect the acquisition, change, and extinction of behavioral patterns. Changes in society and working life may usefully be conceptualized as changes in contingencies of reinforcement. Moving along a continuum; from restricting variation to evoking variability of responding, the range of control may shift from correction of any response deviation to shaping of variation to acquire solutions that are in demand in an unpredictable and continuously changing environment/market



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