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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #138
CE Offered: BACB

Self-Control and Social Cooperation

Sunday, May 25, 2008
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Grand Ballroom
Area: DEV; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Howard Rachlin, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
HOWARD RACHLIN (Stony Brook University)
Prof. Howard Rachlin obtained a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from Cooper Union in 1957, an MA in psychology from The New School for Social Research in 1962, and PhD in psychology from Harvard University in 1965. He is currently a Research Professor and an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University. He has written six books including Behavior And Mind (1994) and The Science of Self-Control (2000) and published more than 100 journal articles. His research focuses on self-control and social cooperation in humans and nonhumans approached from the perspective of teleological behaviorism.

Failures of self-control and social cooperation may both be described in terms of hyperbolic discounting: failures of self-control as due to discounting by delay of reinforcement -- failures of social cooperation as due to discounting by social distance. Both self-control and social cooperation may be seen as choice of distributed rewards over individual rewards: self-control as choice of rewards distributed in time -- social cooperation as choice of rewards distributed over social space. Self-control fails when the value of a large reward distributed over time (such as good health) is discounted below that of a small immediate reward (such as having an alcoholic drink). Social cooperation fails when the value of a large reward distributed in social space (such as availability of public television) is discounted below that of a small reward to oneself (keeping money rather than donating it).Patterns of behavior that maximize reward distributed over wide temporal or social distances may be selected by reinforcement and evolve over the lifetimes of individuals by a process akin to group selection in biological evolution.




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