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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Invited Symposium #285
CE Offered: BACB
Martyrdom: Conceptual, Developmental, and Socio-Political Issues
Sunday, May 30, 2010
4:30 PM–5:50 PM
103AB (CC)
Area: DEV/CSE; Domain: Theory
Chair: Todd A. Ward (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Sigrid S. Glenn (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Katherine Houpt, Doctor of Veterinary Medicinediplomate of the American Coll
Abstract: The current symposium attempts to address martyrdom at the conceptual, developmental, and socio-political levels. Conceptually, we place martyrdom on a continuum of rule-governed behavior, one end of which entails verbally specified consequences having no actual referents. The conditions giving rise to the receipt of short-term aversive consequences in pursuit of long-term positive consequences of little or no probability of occurrence will be examined. Developmentally, we will employ the dynamical principles of the behavioral systems approach to examine the effects of extreme religious indoctrination on the production of various belief systems. We will explore the conditions under which such beliefs, as systems of rules, facilitate acts of martyrdom. In addition, we will examine the role that derived relational responding may play given cases in which a would-be martyr chooses not to proceed with a suicidal act. Lastly, the socio-political context of martyrdom as a cultural practice is discussed, which emphasizes the interrelations among practices, including those of religion and morality as they relate to political power. Challenges facing behavior analysts as cultural engineers, with an emphasis on cultural survival, will be discussed.
Wishful Thinking
LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Martyrdom is the name for a particular pattern of rule following. Like other cases of rule following, it occurs with respect to a verbally specified contingency. It may be distinguished from other cases in two ways. First, it evokes behavior predictive of short-term aversive and long-term positive consequences, both of which vary in probability of occurrence. Second, the probability of the specified long-term consequences varies along a continuum of referential actuality. At one end of this continuum, the specified consequences have no actual referents. This paper will examine the conditions giving rise to a tendency to provoke actual short-term aversive consequences in pursuit of long-term positive consequences of no actuality and thereby no probability of occurrence. Also examined will be patterns of this same class of rule following in which the specified long-term consequences, while having actual referents, are of such low probability of occurrence as to challenge their pursuit.
Linda J. Parrott Hayes. Linda Hayes received her doctoral degree from Western Michigan University and held faculty positions at West Virginia University and St. Mary's University in Canada prior to assuming her current position as professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Linda co-founded the Behavior Analysis Program at UNR on a self-capitalization model in 1990 and served as its director for over a decade. She has held a number of leadership positions in ABAI, including its Presidency and as Coordinator of its Education and Practice Boards. She currently directs the Council of Directors of ABAI's Accredited Programs. Linda's scholarly work reflects a wide range of interests, including everything from interdisciplinary animal research to behavioral systems analysis. She is best known for her work in the areas of behavior theory and philosophy.
On Self-Sacrifice and Martyrdom: From Self-Generated Rules to Rules Provided by Others
MARTHA PELAEZ (Florida International University), Douglas Robertson (Florida International University)
Abstract: Traditionally, martyrs are seen as individuals who accept certain death rather than relinquish their religious beliefs. Is a young Muslim schooled to believe in suicide bombing in the context of religion different from a young Catholic taught to believe in the tenets of Catholicism? Any differences observed between diverse forms of indoctrination reside within the range of choices and opportunities that each individual member of the group has for self-generated rules (or self-derived "beliefs"). In extreme religious settings, the child's education is circumscribed by sets of rules provided by others, and often those rules are imposed by leaders or parents early in development. The concept of free will is examined and related to martyrdom and self-sacrifice. Is the person at liberty to change his or her belief? Is there a sufficient history of derived relational responding to generate new rules and beliefs to choose not to proceed with the planned act of martyrdom? The notion of “transformation” in moral beliefs is explored from the Behavioral Systems Approach (Novak & Pelaez, 2004), where the dynamical principles of equifinality, nonlinearity, behavioral attractors, and coalescent organization (adduction) are related to self-sacrifice and martyrdom.
Martha Pelaez is Frost Professor at Florida International University. Her research focuses on areas of mother-infant interactions and infant social learning processes. She has developed intervention protocols for infants at-risk of language delays published in a recent book (Rehfeldt & Y. Barnes–Holmes, 2009). Her theoretical and experimental contributions include a taxonomy of rule-governed behavior (Pelaez & Moreno, 1998), a behavior-analytic approach to moral development (Pelaez & Gewirtz, 1995), and connections between derived relational responding and intelligence (with O'hora & D. Barnes-Holmes). Dr. Pelaez has published numerous refereed articles in mainstream journals including the American Psychologist and the Journal of Child Development, more than 40 chapters, and co-authored a widely used textbook with Novak (2004), Child and adolescent development: A behavioral systems approach (Sage). She served as Program Chair for the APA Division 25 and past Program Co-Chair for the Association for Behavior Analysis. She is founding editor (1990) of the Behavior Development Bulletin and serves on nine editorial boards including The Behavior Analyst. She received Fellowship status by the APA and is currently a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavior Studies. Dr. Pelaez has also served as member of the Florida Board of Governors.
Cultural Survival or Group Survival? A Behavioral Account of Martyrdom as a Religious Practice
RAMONA HOUMANFAR (University of Nevada, Reno), Todd A. Ward (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The role of religious practices in cultural evolution and the interrelations of religious and other cultural practices are the topics of this paper. In that regard, religious and nonreligious practices interact in a variety of ways and may be important or necessary for the maintenance of each. The preservation of particular practices by the deliberate manipulation of these interrelations is commonplace. Presumably, the motivation of authorities with the power to manipulate practices is centered on the value of outcomes produced. That value, explicitly or implicitly, is group survival or cultural survival. This paper provides a descriptive analysis of the socio-economic and historical conditions that generate religious practices associated with martyrdom. Additionally, the relation of such religious practices to leadership practices is discussed. Our analysis draws upon distinctions between religious and nonreligious, religious and moral plus moral and other cultural practices. We address the significance of these distinctions to the role of religious practices such as martyrdom in group survival or cultural survival and conclude with a discussion of the challenges facing behavior analysts as cultural engineers.
Dr. Ramona Houmanfar received her PhD from University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and joined the faculty in the Department of Psychology at UNR in 1998. Dr. Houmanfar has served as the Director of Organizational Behavior Management Network and President of Nevada Association for Behavior Analysis. Currently, she is serving as the senior co-chair of the Association for Behavior Analysis, a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, editor of the Organizational Behavior Management Section of Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, and an editorial board member of Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and Behavior and Social Issues. Dr. Houmanfar has published dozens of articles and chapters, delivered more than 100 presentations at regional, national, and international conferences in the areas of organizational change, cultural psychology and second language training. She has published two co-edited books titled "Organizational Change" (available through Context Press) and "Understanding Complexity in Organizations". She has also co-edited a Special Issue of Journal of Organizational Behavior on Behavioral Systems Analysis. Dr. Houmanfar has consulted with organizations to improve training and productivity in both the public and private sector. Her entrepreneurial and federal grant activities have generated over $1,000,000 during the last three years.



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