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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Panel #171
CE Offered: BACB
On Rachlin's Notion of Self-Control
Sunday, May 25, 2008
10:00 AM–11:20 AM
Area: DEV/TPC; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Martha Pelaez, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (University of Florida)
MARTHA PELAEZ (Florida International University)
M. JACKSON MARR (Georgia Tech)
MARK A. MATTAINI (Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois, Chicago)

The panelists will discuss Rachlin's notion of self-control and social cooperation. His argument is that both can be described in terms of hyperbolic discounting: "failures of self-control as due to discounting by delay of reinforcementfailures of social cooperation as due to discounting by social distance." According to Rachlin, 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. The audience will be encouraged to participate.




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