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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #246
The Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group Honors Jack Michael
Sunday, May 27, 2012
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
101 (TCC)
Area: VRB; Domain: Theory
Chair: Sarah A. Lechago (University of Houston - Clear Lake)
Discussant: Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)

Jack Michael is one of the most important and influential figures in the field of behavior analysis. His contributions to the study of verbal behavior, in particular, have been profound and have changed the way we conceptualize, teach, and research verbal behavior. The Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group would like to honor Jack for these contributions. During this symposium, three influential professionals in the field of verbal behavior will share their perspectives on Jack's most outstanding contributions to the field and on their own personal experiences with him as students and colleagues. After these presentations, Jack will be honored with the VB SIG's first "Jack Michael Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Verbal Behavior."


How Would I Teach Verbal Behavior If I Didn't Know Jack?


Jack Michael's body of work has had an enormous impact on almost every aspect of the field of behavior analysis. He has contributed to our understanding of the experimental analysis of behavior. His paper with Ted Ayllon in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior in 1959, is considered by most to be the first demonstration of applied behavior analytic research. Throughout his career, but especially in the last 30 years, Jack's conceptual and theoretical writings have demonstrated the important role that radical behaviorism plays in our understanding and interpretation of complex human behavior. And few repertoires are more complex than verbal behavior as those of us who have studied B. F. Skinner's (1957) analysis of language know. But it is Jack and his students (and we are all Jack's students) who are mainly responsible for the growing body of clinical research and effective applications of Skinner's analysis of language to those who do not acquire it easily and without explicit teaching. Through Jack's teachings and "translation" of Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior along with his uncovering of important behavior analytic concepts and variables many important advances in the technology of teaching verbal behavior to persons with developmental disabilities have been made possible. With the time I have available I would like to honor and thank Jack by describing just a few of the clinical applications of the analysis of verbal behavior that have been made possible by his work and then discuss the benefits that have resulted for many persons. If I make my point you too might also say, "How would I teach verbal behavior if I didn't know Jack?"


The International Impact of Jack Michael's Life Work

A. CELSO GOYOS (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)

In this presentation I will highlight my understanding of Jack Michael's most important contributions regarding the teaching of Skinner's verbal behavior concepts, the influence of his commitment to college teaching and academic life, his model as a designer of translational research, and research on verbal behavior, and the impact in the field of verbal behavior and applied and conceptual behavior analysis of Jack's work on the international scenario, all under the perspective of a former foreign student.


Jack Michael's Contributions to the Concepts of Automatic Reinforcement and Multiple Control

DAVID C. PALMER (Smith College)

Among the many contributions Jack Michael made to behavior analysis, I will discuss only two: His emphasis on the importance of automatic reinforcement and his elaboration of Skinner's discussion of multiple control. I will identify three types of automatic reinforcement, as they apply to verbal behavior and will argue that reinforcement by "achieving parity" with the practices of the verbal community is especially relevant to language acquisition, as it neatly accounts for the fine-grained shaping of behavior in the apparent absence of social contingencies. The ubiquity of multiple control is often overlooked. The "algebraic summation" of multiple sources of response strength is central to recall, problem solving, and much other complex human behavior.




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