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

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Symposium #284
CE Offered: BACB
Doing Gender: Behavioral Assessment of Implicit and Explicit Gender(ing)
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Alpine, Swissotel
Area: TPC/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Maria R. Ruiz (Rollins College)
Discussant: Anthony O'Reilly (University of Essex )
CE Instructor: Maria R. Ruiz, Ph.D.

The past dozen years has seen an increased interest by behavior analysts in assessing what cognitivists refer to as implicit cognitions. In response to The Implicit Association Test (IAT) by Greenwald and colleagues behavior analysts have developed and published studies focusing on verbal histories as a core process (e.g. Roche, Ruiz, O'Riordan & Hand, 2005; Gavin, Roche & Ruiz, 2008; Gavin, Roche, Ruiz, Hogan & O'Reilly, 2012; O'Reilly, Roche, Ruiz & Champion, 2013). The most recent iteration is the Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST) developed by O'Reilly and colleagues. This symposium focuses on Gender related issues and extending the behavioral analysis of doing gender (Ruiz, 1995, 2003) and applying the FAST to assess verbal histories that the authors have demonstrated are related to implicit attitudes.An application to the gaming community is included and implications of negative gendering practices are examined.


Developing the Function Acquisition Speed Test: Methodological Improvements and Conceptual Challenges for Attitude Measurement From a Behavioural Perspective

ANTHONY O'REILLY (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Aoife Cartwright (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Ian T. Stewart (National University of Ireland, Galway)

The Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST) is a novel implicit attitude measure that applies behavioural principles and methodology to the assessment of subjects' histories of verbal behaviour with regard to particular natural stimulus relations in the vernacular - or, more commonly, their "implicit attitudes". The implicit attitude construct is ubiquitous in social cognitive psychology, but how are "implicit attitudes" best discussed in behavioural terms? This paper will discuss the developing FAST methodology and the conceptual questions surrounding "implicit attitudes", and consider the implications for applying a functional approach to attitude measurement for intervention.

Using a Modified Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST) for Assessing Gender Stereotypes
AOIFE CARTWRIGHT (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Michelle Gogarty (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Anthony O'Reilly (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Ian T. Stewart (National University of Ireland, Galway)
Abstract: The current study was an application of the Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST) procedure to the assessment of natural stimulus relations in the vernacular. Specifically, this experiment assessed the sensitivity of the FAST to common gender stereotypes of men as “masculine” (i.e., dominant or competitive) and women as “feminine” (i.e., nurturing or gentle). Thirty participants completed a FAST procedure consisting of two testing blocks. In one block, functional response classes were established between classes of stimuli assumed to be stereotype-consistent (i.e., men-agentic and women-communal), and in the other between classes of stimuli assumed to be stereotype-inconsistent (i.e., men-communal and women-agentic). Differences in the rate of class acquisition across the two blocks were quantified using cumulative record-type learning curves plotting correct responses as a function of time. Acquisition rates were significantly faster (i.e., steeper learning curve) for the stereotype-consistent relative to the stereotype-inconsistent block. Corroborating agency/communality stereotypes were observed on an Implicit Association Test containing identical stimuli.
Gendering Practices in Video Games: A FAST Assessment
MARIA R. RUIZ (Rollins College), Kevin M. Miraglia (Rollins College), Rachel Vlahov (Rollins College), Bryan T. Roche (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
Abstract: The gaming industry has built itself as a male-dominated space, despite relatively recent efforts to become more inclusive. These efforts have met with backlash against the perceived intrusion of women into gaming recently manifested as Gamergate. We examined the portrayal of women and gamers’ reactions using the Function Acquisition Speed Test (FAST). The FAST yields behavioral measures of so-called implicit attitudes, or as behaviorists understand them, verbal histories. Seven college undergraduates responded to colors directly related to images of a sexualized and a non-sexualized female video game character and to nonsense syllables indirectly (transitively) related to a neutral word / derogatory word used to describe women. In general, participants found it easier to respond to the sexualized character combined with the derogatory word, which may have implications for the way female characters are portrayed in the gaming industry.
Sex as a Discriminative Stimulus for Gendered Practices: A Case for an Operational Definition of Gender
MARK RZESZUTEK (St Cloud State University), Elizabeth Harri-Dennis (MNABA), Benjamin N. Witts (St. Cloud State University)
Abstract: Radical behaviorism generally rejects dualistic interpretations of natural phenomena, but our culture often imposes dualisms that require our continued analysis (cf. Skinner, 1953). Ruiz (2003) noted that gender as a subject of analysis is mired in dualistic interpretations such as; individual versus environmental control of behavior, male and female as distinct biological categories, and cultural practices that divide into masculine and feminine categories. The purpose of this paper is to extend Ruiz’s (2003) analysis of sex as a discriminative stimulus of gendered practices. For behavior analysts, the object of concern is that gender is dualistically interpreted as a stimulus class and a response class. When gender is defined as a stimulus, a person becomes a discriminative stimulus for how to act in their presence. This is useful in some ways, and helps us to align our behavior with cultural norms. The difficulty becomes when we impose gender as a stimulus on people whose behavior does not align with cultural norms. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that a definition of gender that includes such an imposition is not in alignment with radical behaviorism by including a pragmatist-feminist interpretation of gender to inform an operational definition of gender.



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