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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Paper Session #358
International Paper Session - Theoretical Issues in Verbal Behavior
Monday, May 26, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Stevens 5
Area: VRB
Chair: Frank Hammonds (Troy University)
In Short-Term Memory, Miller's Magical Number 7 Plus or Minus 2 is just 2.
Domain: Applied Research
SRINIVASAN MAHADEVAN (University of Tennessee), John C. Malone (University of Tennessee)
Abstract: Based on data from a new method for testing STM, we argue that the capacity limit is 2 items and not the 7 ± 2 item estimate derived from the conventional memory-span task. In the “memory condition,” participants were shown sequences of digits (one/sec) on a video screen, starting with two digits and progressing to a maximum of ten, according to success in recalling the set. A post-presentation tone indicated whether they should report the digits in the presentation order or in the reverse order. In a second, “reading condition,” the presentation of the digit sequence was followed by the simultaneous appearance of those same digits on the screen, accompanied by the tone, allowing the subjects to merely read off the series, from left to right or the reverse. Response latencies were approximately the same in both the memory and reading conditions, whether reporting the list as presented or in reverse order, when the list was only two digits. But latencies increased significantly with list length only for the “memory/report reverse order” subjects. With the “reading condition” as baseline, these results show that in the serial recall of digits, the magical number is only two.
Competent or Incompetent? The Behavioralization of Competency.
Domain: Applied Research
KEVIN JACKSON (State of Florida), Emily Dickens (MRDP/APD), Monica Watkins (MRDP/APD)
Abstract: Under Florida law an individual with mental retardation or mental illness arrested for a crime may be found incompetent to proceed in the legal process. A defendant is incompetent to proceed if the defendant does not have sufficient present ability to consult with her/his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding or if the defendant has no rational, as well as factual, understanding of the proceedings against her/his. Typically, licensed psychologists or psychiatrists conduct competency evaluations for the courts which are largely based on the verbal responses of the defendant to interview questions. The interpretation and evaluation of these responses is subjective and it is not uncommon for different evaluators to offer differing opinions to the same or similar responses. Behaviorally, the distinction between rational and factual understanding can be objectively described in terms of hierarchical intraverbal relationships. Relational responding assessment and training protocols provide additional objective methods for evaluating competency. Conceptualizing competency in terms of objective behavioral relationships may lead to clearer, more effective and more efficient competency training and assessment procedures.
Verbal Behavior and Learning without Awareness.
Domain: Applied Research
FRANK HAMMONDS (Troy University)
Abstract: This presentation will cover historical and recent research on verbal behavior as it relates to learning without awareness. I will discuss my ongoing research on the subject and how those findings may affect the debate. It is my belief that the discussion of “awareness” includes serious errors and that behavior analysts, using a discussion of verbal behavior, can correct these.



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