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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #272
Weapons of Influence: Examining Persuasion, Conformity, and Cooperation Through a Behavior Analytic Lens
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Zurich E, Swissotel
Area: TPC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Christopher Hebein (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)

Many researchers have suggested the scope of behavior science is far-reaching. However, given such claims, social phenomena such as cooperation, conformity, and persuasion have been left to the assumptions of less equipped fields. The extent to which behavior scientists can examine such phenomena depends on ways the role of verbal behavior are examined in the analysis of cultural phenomena. The importance of rhetoric in cultural analysis has been highlighted as weapons of influence by marketing, political science, social psychology, to name a few. Within the behavior analytic literature, for instance, there have been a number of experimental studies on cooperation. However, what does or does not constitute cooperative behavior has remained unclear. As such, many researchers have adapted the definition of cooperation to complement their experimental procedures, resulting in a number of contradictory and unclear definitions. For example, whether or not cooperation necessitates a social element and/or verbal behavior is not consistently addressed. By drawing upon some of the literature in social sciences and behavior analysis, presentations in the symposium will provide behavior scientific accounts of persuasion, cooperation and conformity.

Keyword(s): conformity, cooperation, persuasion, social issues

Cooperation and Conformity: Cultural Implications for Delineating the Two Terms in Applied Work

ELIZABETH GHEZZI (University of Nevada, Reno), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)

Voter turnout for the 2012 United States presidential election was 53.6% of eligible voters, a relatively low percent as compared to other developed countries with democracies. Recent political science research suggests voting is an act of cooperation -- a shared outcome not achievable by any one source acting alone (Rafacz). Behavior analysis can contribute to the complex cultural phenomenon of voting by looking at cooperation and conformity, whether there is a difference between the two terms, and the implications they have on the study of voter turnout and other political choices from a behavior analytic perspective. This paper will address cooperation and conformity from a conceptual and theoretical framework, and the advantages and disadvantages of delineating the two terms. Lastly, future methodology for researching voter behavior, specifically voter turnout, from both a cooperation and conformity standpoint will be discussed.


Take My Word for It: A Behavioral Account of Persuasion

JOVONNIE L. ESQUIERDO-LEAL (University of Nevada, Reno), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)

For centuries, philosophers, researchers, and psychologists have been hard at work studying the verbal weapons of influence, more specifically, the phenomenon of persuasion. Although persuasion has been studied across four millennia, the bulk of the experimental work has been conducted within the last century, and primarily exists in the literatures of social psychology. Despite a robust line of research in social psychology, the literatures still lack a theoretically and empirically sound explanation for how skilled persuasive repertoires are shaped and maintained. It can be argued that a behavior analytic approach, especially one that focuses on verbal behavior, would serve useful to the scientific community. For instance, by eschewing futile mental associations and focusing on the behavior involved in principles outlined by social psychologists, the scientific utility of behavior analysis can be demonstrated. This presentation will provide an overview of ways by which behavior analysis may offer a scientific contribution to the analysis of persuasion.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh