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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Symposium #413
International Symposium - Behavior Analysis and a Science of Culture
Monday, May 26, 2008
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Area: CSE/OBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The analysis of cultural practices and cultural survival has broadened the scope of behavior analysis considerably. A number of formulations have benefited from interdisciplinary contacts; significant among these have been commerce with behavioral anthropology. Others have proceeded on more specifically behavioral grounds. We have assembled a series of presentations on the application of technologies associated with concepts such as behavioral contingency, metacontingency, and macrocontingency for the analysis of cultural phenomena. The underlying goal of these presentations is to be pragmatic and context specific to current economic and political outcomes reflecting survival contingencies while maintaining coherence with aforementioned concepts. In short, the selected papers demonstrate the effects of cultural change in the form of art, laws, policies, cooperation, and other contingencies that determine change, from within small organizational groups to larger national and worldwide groups.
Metacontingencies of Survival in Art Movements.
Abstract: The Mexican muralist movement represents one of the most significant achievements in public art during the 20th century. It was the largest muralist movement in art history after the Renaissance. It started in 1921 and it lost its strength as an artistic drive in 1955. It took place in a country devastated by a 10-year civil war, which at the time, experienced tremendous social, political and economic instability. As a matter of illustration of behavioral systems analysis and cultural evolution, this paper reflects on critical conditions and metacontingencies that contributed to the initiation, development, and vanishing of the movement, with the hope that such analysis can aid the study of other social/cultural phenomena.
Behavior Analysis of Non-Experimental Data Associated with Cultural Practices.
JOAO CLAUDIO TODOROV (Universidade Católica de Goiás)
Abstract: The experimental analysis of individual behavior has been the trademark of behavior analysis, either in basic research or applied work. When working with social issues however, the focus on single subject can be expanded to the analysis of cultural practices. One way to study cultural practices which can be defined as similar patterns of behavioral topographies that result from similar environments is to analyze large sets of data that are gathered by private and public organizations. In short, this presentation will focus on the analysis of cultural phenomena and associated cultural practices by using methods described by Skinner in Science and Human Behavior.
Reducing Corporate Externalities.
ANTHONY BIGLAN (Oregon Research Institute)
Abstract: An externality is a cost that a corporation’s actions impose on society. A power plant may emit mercury, but may not pay for the cost of that pollution to the people living near the power plant. A diverse range of problems of society can be analyzed in these terms, including the health effects of corporate practices, and the unsustainability of manufacturing processes, the marketing of products that contribute to environmental damage, and economic policies that maintain high levels of poverty due to effective lobbying by members of the business community. This paper will examine the problem of externalities in terms of metacontingencies. Externalities continue precisely because there is no cost to the organizations for practices that impose these costs on third parties. The presentation will describe procedures that economists have defined for reducing externalities and will examine the cultural practices that are needed to increase the degree to which governments are motivated to make corporations bear the true costs of practices whose costs are now imposed on others.
Balancing the Commonwealth and Corporate Survival.
MARK P. ALAVOSIUS (University of Nevada, Reno), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno), Joseph Charles Dagen (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Purchasing co-operatives may be a means to systematize counter-control relations to powerful conglomerates. Little has been done by behavior analysts and OBM practitioners/researchers to examine how consumers (and employees) can be organized to effectively counter the unintended consequences of corporate initiatives that serve selected special interests (their stakeholders) but unintentionally disserve the many individuals (like consumers and workers) who, alone, have little or no viable options to affect change. Interlocked contingencies are designed to maximize corporate profit but may also establish and maintain dangerous, wasteful, or unhealthy practices. Activists might pool the collective purchasing power of organizational members and manage contingencies in the marketplace that establish and maintain a balance of human affairs with corporate survival. Analysis of contingencies lies at the foundation of organized efforts to design cultural practices in the context of potent corporate influences and promote the greatest good for the commonwealth.



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