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.


30th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2004

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #12
CE Offered: None

Piaget and Skinner: Evolving into Complementarity

Saturday, May 29, 2004
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
Area: DEV; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Hayne W. Reese, M.Ed.
Chair: Hayne W. Reese (West Virginia University)
WILLIS OVERTON (Temple University)
Dr. Willis (Bill) F. Overton is the Thaddeus Lincoln Bolton Professor of Psychology and Chairman of the Department of Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Overton is currently Editor of Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, past Associate Editor of Developmental Psychology, and board member of many developmental and cognitive-developmental journals. He is also a Fellow of Divisions 7 (Developmental), 12 (Clinical), and 20 (Aging) of the American Psychological Association and Past President of the Jean Piaget Society. During his career, Dr. Overton has been a research scientist, teacher, and clinician. He has published over 100 books, chapters, and research articles, and has given more than 90 addresses to national and international organizations. His empirical research has focused on cognitive development, and specifically the development of reasoning. His theoretical writings have examined the nature and impact of metatheoretical assumptions on concepts and methods in psychology, including analyses of the structure of developmental theory, the place of general systems in our understanding of development, the assumptive base of the nature-nurture debate, and the role of reductionism in contemporary developmental methodology.

Historically, cognitive-developmental, and behavior analytic approaches to the study of human behavior and development have been viewed as incompatible with alternative theoretical and methodological perspectives. This presumed incompatibility has itself generally been understood as arising from divergent sets of metatheoretical assumptions that take the form of ontological and epistemological principles and, as coherent wholes, constitute worldviews. Classically cognitive-developmental approaches have been cast as deriving from an organismic worldview and behavior analytic approaches from a contextualist worldview. Previous attempts at uniting the two approaches have entailed privileging one and radically modifying the other. A more meaningful move toward integration requires a set of metatheoretical assumptions that transcends both worldviews, and, while maintaining their distinct qualities, unites them. Such a metatheoretical framework constitutes the base for a true rapprochement of cognitive-developmental and behavior analytic approaches. The integrative metatheoretical frame presented here has been termed relational metatheory. Relational metatheory entailing four basic principles of holism, the identity of opposites, the opposites of identity, and the synthesis of wholes identifies the process by which classically fundamental dichotomies can be transformed into co-equal indissociable complementarities, and how these complementarities can serve as relatively stable platforms for launching diverse forms of scientific inquiry.




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