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 #528
Under-Addressed Issues in Behavior Analysis: Diversity, Sexuality, Gerontology, and Response Amplitude
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
10:00 AM–11:20 AM
Area: TPC/CSE; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Diana J. Walker (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Behavior-analytic principles are widely applicable to virtually all behavior of importance to humans and society. Regardless, there are areas of human behavior that have been relatively neglected by behavior analysts, and four of these areas are diversity/multiculturalism, sexuality, gerontology, and response amplitude. Diversity and multiculturalism are of increasing importance in today’s global society. Sexuality has been addressed by behavior analysts in the context of behavior problems but less so in the context of typical, functional sexuality. The field of gerontology is increasingly important, given the growing population of people over age 65. Finally, the dimension of response amplitude has implications for vocal verbal behavior, reading, private events, etc. This paper session will discuss behavior-analytic treatment of these issues, including what has been done and suggestions for future research.
Diversity and Multi-Cultural Issues in Behavior Analysis.
DIANA J. WALKER (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Diversity and multicultural issues have been underemphasized in behavior analysis, perhaps because of the central tenet of individual differences and the environment-based approach to explaining behavior. Racism and other “-isms” are mentalistic (Moore, 2003) and, therefore, antithetical to a radical-behaviorist perspective. Implications of the radical-behaviorist approach to racial and other types of discrimination include the following: (1) a radical behaviorist should not “be prejudiced” or engage in discriminatory behavior, (2) prejudice and discrimination are behavioral problems that can be treated, and (3) we cannot blame the “racist” or “racism” (Guerin, 2005) because that would be mentalistic. Current behavior-analytic approaches to the problem of discrimination will be discussed, along with possibilities for future research and implications for the field.
Sexuality and Behavior Analysis: What’s “Normal” and Why Should It Matter to Us?
FAWNA STOCKWELL (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Human sexuality is a seldom-discussed and under-researched topic in behavior analysis. The majority of behavior-analytic research has addressed problematic behaviors rather than developing a broader perspective of what behaviors exist in the realm of typical, functional sexuality. This presentation will cover current methods of directly measuring sexual behaviors, point out seminal research on the spectrum of human sexual behavior, and discuss implications and directions for further research.
Behavioral Gerontology: The Clients Will Be There; Where Are We?
VINH DANG (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: The population of persons over 65 years old in the US has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. Skinner noted this trend and devoted several articles as well as his 1983 book to this special population. The US Census Bureau projected that the population over 65 will increase by 30% from 1990 to 2010. With the aging of the Baby Boomer cohort, this population is expected to increase by 78% from 40.2 thousand in 2010 to 71.5 thousand in 2030; approximately 20% of the US population will be over 65 years old. This paper will summarize some behavior analytic studies done with older adults and examine how behavior analysis has responded to this socially significant issue along with a further focus on possible controlling factors on the behavior of analysts working with this population. Finally this paper will evaluate the statement, “the older adult population is ripe for behavior analysis.”
Response Amplitude: A Neglected Dimension of Behavioral Research and Development.
JOHN W. ESHLEMAN (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: In most natural sciences, amplitude has equal importance to frequency, often depicted as orthogonal to it. As a data-based review of the literature reveals, response amplitude has been an understudied area within behavior analysis. Few researchers have investigated amplitude, possibly because Skinner (1938) found little significance regarding the intensity of mechanical responses. However, on page 438 em>Verbal Behavior, Skinner (1957) also suggested an amplitude scale for possible use with the study of vocalized verbal behavior. No follow-up research exists regarding the amplitude of verbal behavior, even though it should be apparent that modulation of vocalizations holds considerable social validity. One example concerns the teaching of reading, where we transition from reading out loud to reading silently – an amplitude change. Our verbal communities impose contingencies related to the amplitude of vocalizations. Moreover, as Skinner’s amplitude scale suggests, so-called private events, inner behavior, and covert action may be better conceptualized as low-amplitude behavior, which has implications for how we may observe and measure it. This presentation concludes with a call for research on amplitude of responding, replete with suggested research questions.



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