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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Special Event #41
SQAB Tutorial: The Law of Affect
Saturday, May 26, 2007
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Randle AB
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Marc N. Branch (University of Florida)
Presenting Authors: : PETER KILLEEN (Arizona State University)
Abstract: Skinner divorced the Law of Effect from Thorndike’s satisfiers, and remarried it to a change in the frequency of the response being reinforced; the Operant Canon holds that reinforcers need not be pleasurable. But why then was our ability to be pleasured selected for over our evolutionary history? Is it in fact generally to our evolutionary advantage to increase the frequency of responses that are reinforced? Thorndike operationally defined satisfiers as a state of affairs that an animal does nothing to avoid, often doing things to attain and preserve. This tutorial urges us to replace Skinner’s version of the law with Thorndike’s; it reinterprets common experimental and applied methods and analyses in Thorndike’s terms; it invites us to take pleasure in taking pleasure back into our analyses, and to savor the possibilities of this old fashioned revolution in our analyses.
PETER KILLEEN (Arizona State University)
Dr. Peter Killeen A confirmed hedonist, Killeen has spent his life approaching satisfiers. Satiated easily, he roams restlessly from one state of affairs to another, seeking ways to feel good about data. As an assistant professor, he had trouble choosing, and so studied choice. As an associate professor he was always aroused, and so studied adjunctive behavior and other passionate, if ill-conceived and counter-productive, behaviors. As a professor, he felt time was running out, and turned to its study. Alas, he found to his shock and dismay that time only went faster when he was having fun studying it, which brought his mood, and the speed of time, back down to earth. He now avoids that annoying state of affairs. Recognizing finally that his restlessness was symptomatic, he spent a year at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo, studying Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He had a wonderful time, but it did not increase the frequency of his studying ADHD. Instead, he lashed out at others, nothing in particular, and wrote a behavioral manifesto against null-hypotheses significance testing: That sadistic practice provides no Sd’s, which is, he argued, one of the things that take much of the pleasure out of doing research. He currently is studying probability, coming to suspect that the stochastic view is yet another just-so story. Where this intellectual vagrant will go next we cannot say; but we suspect he will carry a smile with him.



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