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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Paper Session #215
Overt and Covert Events
Sunday, May 27, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
605 (Convention Center)
Area: TPC
Chair: Bryan D. Midgley (McPherson College)
Methodological Behaviorism as a Radical Behaviorist Views It
Domain: Theory
JAY MOORE (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)
Abstract: This review examines the historical and conceptual background to methodological behaviorism. It argues that methodological behaviorism is the name for a strongly prescriptive orientation to psychological science. The first and original feature of methodological behaviorism is that psychologists should only deploy those “psychological” terms and concepts in their theories and explanations that are based on observable stimuli and behavior. A second feature is that psychologists should adhere to particular research and explanatory practices. We analyze methodological behaviorism from the standpoint of Skinner’s radical behaviorism, and conclude that methodological behaviorism is ironically closely tied to mentalism.
A Skinnerian Approach to Neuroscience
Domain: Theory
DANIELE ORTU (University of Stirling)
Abstract: Recent advances in the neurosciences point to the fact that the same sensory-perceptual areas in the brain are active both when a participant is seeing an object and when the object has been imagined. Similarly, the same areas of the motor cortex are active, although with varying strength, during covert and overt speech. These results are consistent with Skinner's interpretations of covert behavior. Moreover, here we consider the interpretation that covert responses may vary in topography, similarly to overt responses. Covert behavior may be perceptual or motor, but a motor component is suggested not to be a necessary prerequisite in defining behavior. Instead, a systematic functional relationship with environmental stimulation is proposed to be a defining feature of a covert response, independently of covert response topography. Finally, an interpretation of the roles of brain structures in the medial temporal lobes is suggested based on previous work by Donahoe & Palmer. Specifically, the hippocampus is proposed to be necessary in the selection of polysensory and polymodal responses, and the perirhinal cortex is suggested to be involved in the discrimination of changes in response strength.

Stephenson's Subjectivity Does Not (Necessarily) Refer to Covert Events

Domain: Theory
BRYAN D. MIDGLEY (McPherson College), Dennis J. Delprato (Eastern Michigan University)

William Stephenson created Q methodology to explore subjectivity. Despite occasional statements in literature to the contrary, subjectivity does not necessarily refer to so-called covert events (e.g., private events, inapparent responses) and it certainly does not refer to hypothetical minds. The assumption of equality among these concepts reflects a limited appreciation of subjectivity. Covert events, such as Skinnerian private events and Kantorian inapparent responses, refer to events that cannot be seen by an outside observer. Subjectivity, in contrast, refers to a relation between describer and described. As Brown (2006) clarifies, "That it is I (rather than you) doing the Q sort [about me] is what makes it subjective and self-referential" (p. 261). To aid in this focus on self, researchers often compose Q samples of somewhat ambiguous opinion statements, stimuli that invite varied responses across people. Our analysis suggests that Stephenson was fundamentally concerned with using Q methodology to probe behavior, that is, to actualize and discover response potentialities. He was perhaps only secondarily concerned with tapping into covert events. Ironically, Stephenson himself might have contributed to misunderstandings regarding subjectivity. The purpose of this presentation is to clarify Stephenson's conceptualization of subjectivity for a naturalistic behaviorism.




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