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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Special Event #8
Opening Event: Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Awards
Saturday, May 24, 2008
11:30 AM–12:50 PM
Grand Ballroom
Chair: Thomas S. Critchfield (Illinois State University)
Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis: Edmund J. Fantino, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
Abstract: In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy denied the possibility of altruistic behavior. His argument might be echoed by some behavior analysts today: behavior has its causes and if we understand what is motivating the altruist we can see that the altruist’s behavior is maintained by reinforcement and is therefore not altruistic. As a first step to understanding the contingencies maintaining altruism it would be desirable to develop a behavioral model of altruism. In our laboratory we have developed the Sharing Game in which a participant decides between two outcomes, for example $7 for himself and $9 for another unknown participant OR $5 for himself and $3 for the other participant. Depending on various contingencies participants choose equitably, or competitively, or optimally (in terms of maximizing their own earnings). The following choice gives participants the possibility of demonstrating altruism: $10 for the chooser and $10 for the anonymous other OR $0 for the chooser and $100 for the anonymous other. About 20% of our subjects select the altruistic option. We are currently investigating the conditions (including gender of the chooser) that foster altruism.
EDMUND J. FANTINO (University of California, San Diego)
Dr. Edmund J. Fantino received his B.A. in mathematics at Cornell in 1961 and his doctorate in Experimental Psychology at Harvard in 1964. He is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and of the Neurosciences Group at the University of California, San Diego. He is former Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and former President of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. His research interests lie in the field of learning and motivation, especially choice, conditioned reinforcement, self-control, temporal discounting, and sources of multiple stimulus control in humans and in pigeons. Currently he is interested in human reasoning, especially illogical thinking, problem solving, and in human observing, including the conditions under which information reinforces human behavior. He has recently developed an economic distribution game that he hopes will permit an experimental analysis of altruism. Another major interest concerns problem solving and the ease with which problem-solving behavior transfers to new situations as a function of the nature of the original learning (rule-governed or contingency-shaped). He continues his interest in operant analogues to foraging behavior, including assessment of behavioral ecology theories with operant choice technology and optimal choice in humans and pigeons.
Award for Impact of Science on Application: Murray Sidman, Ph.D
Abstract: The relation between basic research and application is not a one-way street. As in every science, basic behavioral research is concerned with phenomena that are available to everyday observation. Everybody knows that people learn, that they remember, that symbols play important roles in our lives, that rewards and punishments influence what we do, that we interact socially, that we communicate through spoken and written words, and so on. These phenomena are as obvious to everybody as the rising and setting of the sun, the relation between clouds and rain, the dependence of life upon food, the fall of unsupported objects, and so on. Science does not accept the everyday descriptive language or the everyday techniques of observation that such phenomena have generated, but no science that ignores the phenomena and language of everyday life will keep on receiving public support. A science of behavior analysis must continue to derive its inspiration for basic research from phenomena that we observe outside the laboratory.
Dr. Murray Sidman lived a happy but otherwise unremarkable boyhood in Boston from 1923 until 1940, when he started at Columbia University. After World War II military service, he returned in 1946 to complete his AB, and went on to a Ph.D in 1952. His principal advisors, Fred S. Keller and W. N. Schoenfeld, had strong assists from Ralph Hefferline, Clarence Graham, and a small group of fellow graduate students. After that, he spent nine years in the exciting and productive interdisciplinary environment of the Neuropsychiatry Division at Walter Reed. He then joined the Neurology Service of the Massachusetts General Hospital for another nine years. His human and nonhuman behavioral research laboratories moved eventually to the E. K. Shriver Center and Northeastern University, where he remained as Professor of Psychology until he retired from Academe, continuing his research at the New England Center for Children. Although retired from there in 2001, he continues research and writing. One outcome of his lifetime of research is his conviction that extending experimental results out of the laboratory not only adds an intrinsically valuable dimension to basic research, but is essential to its survival in a world of increasing competition for ever more limited resources.
Award for Effective Presentation of Behavior Analysis in the Mass Media: Amy Sutherland
Abstract: As I describe a problem I'm having with a student in my class who consistently turns in papers late, Scott responds, "Is there a way you can Shamu it?" Shamu the noun has become a verb in our house. It's become shorthand for using the principles of progressive animal training, a.k.a. behavior analysis, to solve a behavioral riddle. We Shamu friends, family and neighbors. We Shamu each other. "Did you just Shamu me?" my husband or I will ask the other. Even a couple of our friends have begun to Shamu, as they say. In fact, it was a friend, a high school teacher, who first conjugated the word. She Shamued us into using it. “But why Shamu?” I'm asked over and over. Isn't it demeaning, manipulative, to use the principles of animal training on humans, especially the noblest of beasts, husbands? Why not just tell someone—spouse, friend, co-worker or sibling—what you want? Not at all and I will explain why.
Amy Sutherland New England-based freelancer Amy Sutherland’s June 25 column entitled What Shamu Taught Me about a Happy Marriage has had a remarkable run at the top of the New York Times' most e-mailed list and enjoyed wide circulation among behavior analysts. In it, Sutherland wrote about using the techniques exotic animal trainers use on dolphins and other animals to improve her husband’s domestic behavior. Ignore the bad behavior and praise the ones you want, she wrote, and just like you can teach an aquatic mammal to jump through hoops, you can teach a hubby to put his laundry in the hamper. Sutherland came upon the applicability of behavioral methods while researching her new book, Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World's Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers (Viking, June 2006). Both the book and the column have raised public awareness of animal training and the behavioral principles used at the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at California's Moorpark College – where she spent a year following new students as they learned to work with the exotic (baboons and cougars) and not-so-exotic animals (snakes and rats) in the teaching zoo. Ms. Sutherland spent most of her childhood in suburban Cincinnati and earned her Master’s in journalism at Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism. She has held staff positions at the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, and the Burlington Free Press. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Disney Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times, among other notable publications. She has received numerous awards, including the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer Award and the John D. Donoghue Award for Arts Criticism.
Award for International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis: Linda J. Hayes, Ph.D.
Abstract: Adopting a wholly naturalistic interpretation of human behavior has profound implications for individual and societal well-being, as well as facilitates more productive relations among scholarly enterprises than is possible in its absence. This approach to the understanding of human behavior has yet to flourish in many parts the world however, whereby its benefits have yet to be realized. External support for the spread of this approach is thereby needed. A number of strategies aimed at enhancing the growth and development of behavior science in areas where this approach is lacking have been implemented by well-meaning individuals and organizations over the years, some more effective than others. This address will identify those strategies with the greatest potential of achieving these aims, and is intended to promote further efforts along these lines.
LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Dr. Linda J. Hayes received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Manitoba, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Western Michigan University. Dr. Hayes was a member of the Behavior Analysis faculty at West Virginia University while completing her doctorate, after which she took a position at Saint Mary’s University in Canada. She founded the campus-based and satellite Programs in Behavior Analysis at the University of Nevada, Reno on a self-capitalization model. Dr. Hayes has participated in the governance of ABA throughout her career, serving as Coordinator of the Education Board, founder and Director of the Council of Graduate Programs in Behavior Analysis, and multiple terms as a member of the Executive Council, including its Presidency. She is actively involved in efforts to promote the development of behavior analysis around the world. Linda is best known for her work in behavior theory and philosophy.
Award for Public Service to Behavior Analysis: Michael Keenan, Ph.D.
Abstract: In this presentation I outline some of the challenges in bringing a science of behaviour to a community. Of particular interest are the difficulties in dealing with the legacy of misrepresentation that plagues our discipline and which, in the case of autism, leads to the impression that our science is for sale. This perception is not helped by the commercialisation of ABA. Despite the obstacles, progress has been made in Ireland over the last 10 years. I argue that things might have been easier if appropriate multimedia resources had existed to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
MICHAEL KEENAN (University of Ulster)
Dr. Michael Keenan is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Senior Lecturer and Distinguished Community Fellow at the School of Psychology at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northen Ireland. He is the Founder of the charity PEAT (Parents Education as Autism Therapists; ) and he received the Award for Promoting Equality of Opportunity from the British Psychological Society and the Personal Achievement Award from the New York State Association for Behaviour Analysis for his work of bringing ABA to children with ASD in Ireland. He is the father of four young children.
Award for Programmatic Contributions to Behavior Analysis: The Kennedy Krieger Institute
Abstract: The principles and basic research findings of operant learning offer considerable potential benefits to society, which can be hindered by a variety of factors, such as organizational structures and professional biases. Over a thirty-year period, a behavior analytic approach was applied to various structural, clinical, and academic variables at two institutions, one specializing in pediatric disorders of the central nervous system (The Kennedy Krieger Institute) and the other involved in the entire spectrum of medicine (The Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine). Systemic “reinforcers” and “aversive conditions” affecting these variables were identified and systematically influenced. The outcomes included high rates of scientific productivity, professional development, programmatic growth, and financial success. A systemic approach to the use and promotion of behavior analysis should have generality to other institutions, organizational structures, and approaches to solving societal problems.
MICHAEL F. CATALDO (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Dr. Michael F. Cataldo will accept the award on behalf of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
2007 International Grant Awards
Abstract: The Board of the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis is very pleased to announce the winner of the 2007 International Development Grant. A project in South Africa, developed by Dr. Joanne K. Robbins (Morningside Academy)
JOANNE K. ROBBINS (Morningside Academy)



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