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

Previous Page


Invited Tutorial #222
CE Offered: BACB
Joint Attention in Children with Autism: Sources of novel behavior
Sunday, May 27, 2012
3:30 PM–4:20 PM
4C-2 (Convention Center)
Area: DEV/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Martha Pelaez, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Presenting Authors: : PER HOLTH (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)

Joint attention was first described in the cognitive-developmental literature in the seventies, and descriptions of autism-specific deficiencies in joint attention skills started to appear in the late eighties. More than 20 years passed before publication of first behavioral intervention studies in that area. Although these studies apparently demonstrated that joint attention skills could be directly trained, follow-up measures indicated that the effects were quite transient. Contrived reinforcers used during training are not likely to follow behavior in the natural environment. An operant analysis of joint attention phenomena suggests that joint attention as displayed in typically developing children is established and maintained by generalized conditioned reinforcers such as others’ changing of gaze direction, nodding, smiling, commenting, etc. The presentation will discuss natural sources of joint attention phenomena and argue for the change of focus from the direct teaching of joint attention behavior to the sources of generalized conditioned reinforcers and the importance of arranging contingencies through which such reinforcers may acquire their function. Moreover, the presentation will discuss how joint attention phenomena seem to be directly interwoven with verbal behavior.

PER HOLTH (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
Professor Per Holth received his license to practice psychology in 1983, and his Ph.D. in 2000, with a dissertation on the generality of stimulus equivalence. His clinical work has been in services for people with autism and developmental disabilities, in psychiatric units, and in the military services. His research activities span basic research, on stimulus equivalence and joint attention, as well as applied work and management of large research projects on Contingency Management in collaboration with the Medical University of South Carolina. His current research interests include sources of novel behavior and behavioral variability, continuous repertoires, joint attention, and conditioned reinforcement, as well as the development of inoculation against making category mistakes. He has written for peer-reviewed publications on basic research, applied work, and philosophy of science, served on several editorial boards, is a member of the editorial troika of the European Journal of Behavior Analysis, and a program co-coordinator of the TPC area of ABAI. Per Holth has taught classes in behavior analysis and learning principles at the University of Oslo and Oslo and Akershus University College (OAUC) since 1982, and joined the faculty of OAUC, program for learning in complex systems, as an associate professor in 2004 and as full professor in 2006. He teaches classes in all behavior-analytic education programs (doctoral, master, and bachelor) at HiAk, and he participates in a faculty exchange agreement with the University of North Texas (UNT).



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh