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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Symposium #409
CE Offered: BACB
Theory and Philosophy in Behavioral Science: Issues in Development and Advancement
Monday, May 28, 2007
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Cunningham B
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Marianne L. Jackson (University of Nevada, Reno)
CE Instructor: Mitch Fryling, M.A.

Theory and philosophy have important roles in the development and advancement of behavioral science. This symposium will include four papers related to theory and philosophy. The first paper discusses the extension of behavior analytic theory to the important area of adherence, particularly as it relates to health. The second paper addresses the role of classical conditioning in the evolution of behavioral science. The third paper describes the relationship between philosophy and behavioral science. Lastly, the fourth paper addresses the concept of probability in behavioral science.

A Behavior Analytic Account of Adherence.
MITCH FRYLING (University of Nevada, Reno), William O'Donohue (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Many of the most pressing problems in society today can be prevented or managed via adherence to prescribed regimens. Chronic health conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension) require ongoing monitoring, planning, and intervention. A behavior analytic account of adherence to prescribed regimens may facilitate the development of effective intervention strategies. This presentation will describe a behavior analytic approach to assessment and intervention in this area. Implications for understanding caregiver adherence to behavior intervention plans will also be discussed.
The Impact of Classical Conditioning in the Evolution of Behavior Science.
DIANA M. DELGADO (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Skinner’s operant conditioning arose as a new paradigm that explained a wider and more complex range of behaviors than those accounted for by respondent conditioning. As introduced by Skinner operant conditioning is understood as a new kind of causality that replaced the mechanistic S-R approach. Since then, the analysis of behaviors both simple and complex has been predominantly of an operant type. By contrast, classical conditioning processes when acknowledged are given but a secondary role within behavior science. As a result, research in classical conditioning processes has evolved as part of the psychobiological and cognitive approaches and apart from behavior science. However, stimulus-stimulus relations are often fundamental in the analysis of complex human behavior and a unidirectional type of causality, such as that implied in biological phenomena, is seldom implied. The benefits and implications of re-cognizing Pavlovian relations from an ontogenetic view of behavior are discussed and some promising areas of research are highlighted.
An Interbehavioral Perspective on the Need for a Bidirectional Relationship with Philosophy.
MARIANNE L. JACKSON (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: A science of behavior has much to gain and to offer a reciprocal relationship with philosophy. A philosophy of science can serve many important roles in scientific enterprises, including the semantic supervision of sciences, monitoring the coherence of sciences, and fostering effective interdisciplinary studies among sciences. Each of these will be discussed in turn and some examples of their relevance to a science of behavior are described. We will then turn our attention to the reciprocal nature of scientific interactions and to the benefits that a science of behavior can offer philosophy and other sciences. A science of behavior has a subject mater that is ubiquitous in science; human behavior or the behavior of the scientist. As such we can contribute a significant amount to other sciences through effective interdisciplinary study and are better equipped to describe the interbehavioral history of the scientist, in relation to the events studied. We conclude that a science of behavior must take on the task of addressing its philosophical assumptions if it is to participate in the expanding area of interdisciplinary study. Furthermore it needs to rise to the tasks outlined and make its own unique contributions to other sciences and the philosophy of science.
Philosophical Discussion of Probability in Behavior Analysis.
DONALD R. KARR (University of Nevada, Reno), W. Larry Williams (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The concept of probability is fundamental to much of behavior analysis, yet there is no unambiguous interpretation of probability that is applicable to all experimental or applied settings. Since its inception in the late 17th century, inspired principally by games of chance, numerous philosophical formulations of probability have been proposed. This presentation will focus on several interpretations of probability by behavior analysts including the eminent pioneers J.R. Kantor and B.F. Skinner. Brief treatments of each of three categories of probability theories are presented as follows: (a) conventional interpretations; (b) frequency interpretations; and (c) subjective interpretations. Highlights of early and later historical developments are discussed. Specific analyses of the interpretations of Kantor and Skinner including their similarities and differences are offered.



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