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 #170
International Paper Session - Complex Behavioral Analysis and Interpretation
Sunday, May 25, 2008
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: TPC
Chair: Marta Leon (Headsprout)
Downward Causation and Analysis of Complex Systems.
Domain: Theory
GUNNAR REE (Akershus University College, Norway)
Abstract: Going from lower to higher levels of reduction, we observe that lawful behavior exhibited at one level will determine how systems behave at the next, with increasing complexity of elements. Variations in the behavior of systems of increasing complexity exhibit properties that are not observable on the lower levels of complexity. In turn, higher levels of complexity constrain the variations possible at lower levels. The system’s interactions with its environment are no less determined or lawful by virtue of the variables being complex. The co-variation of the behavior of more complex units of analysis with variables external to these units may be a suitable subject for a scientific investigation, provided basic requirements for the analytical concepts are met.
Alternative Contingency Sets: Explaining Otherwise Unpredictable Behavior.
Domain: Theory
MARTA LEON (Headsprout)
Abstract: Prediction and control of behavior through extinction, reinforcement, or punishment pose little problem in contexts where only one response is available to the subject. When two or more responses are available, however, the response targeted for control may take unpredicted directions. This presentation will draw on Israel Goldiamond’s analysis of alternative sets of contingencies to show how the availability of a second response complicates the prediction of behavior under reinforcement conditions and, more significantly, challenges the functional definition of punishment as it is commonly taught in behavior analysis courses. Laboratory and applied examples will be provided to show some common scenarios where alternative contingencies operate unbeknown to the behavior analyst. Because restricting the range of available responses is often undesirable due to concerns about coercion, this paper will illustrate some of the variables that contribute to the relative strength of the alternative contingencies. Strategies to potentiate the target contingency set over other competing sets will be also discussed.



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