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 #165
CE Offered: None

EAHB-SIG Distinguished Career Award: Murray Sidman, PhD

Sunday, May 30, 2004
10:30 AM–11:20 AM
Area: PRA; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: William J. McIlvane, Psy.D.
Chair: William J. McIlvane (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Murray Sidman was born in 1923 in Boston, where he lived a happy but otherwise unremarkable boyhood until he graduated from high school and started at Columbia University in 1940. After an interruption for military service in World War II, he returned in 1946 to complete his BA. He then continued for a fifth undergraduate year in order to take all the science courses he had missed before, and went on to receive a PhD in 1952. His principal advisors were Fred S. Keller and W. N. Schoenfeld, with 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 Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, where Joseph V. Brady had established a Psychology Department in the Neuropsychiatry Division headed by David McK. Rioch, From there, he went on to the Neurology Service of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for another nine years, during which his most memorable experience was meeting and eventually marrying Rita. The laboratories for human and nonhuman behavioral research that he set up at the MGH moved eventually to the E. K. Shriver Center and Northeastern University, where he remained as Professor of Psychology until he retired from academe and continued his research at the New England Center for Children. Since retiring from there in 2001, he has continued his research and writing without any formal affiliation. One of the most meaningful conclusions to come out of his lifetime of research is that the results of basic research must be extended out of the laboratory. Such extension 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.

Does the name of this special interest group The Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior, imply that those who analyze the behavior of human animals must organize themselves apart from those who analyze the behavior of nonhuman animals? Is the use of nonhumans in experiments really not relevant to the analysis of the behavior of humans? If so, then something must have changed. Many differences exist, of course, between the behavior of humans and nonhumans humans, for example, cannot fly under their own power but have we really isolated differences in principle, differences that require separate organizations for the study of each? I will try to indicate why I believe this is a serious concern, where the concern comes from, and what, perhaps, might be done to maintain what was once a flourishing bi-directional relation between research with humans and nonhumans, in both basic and applied research.




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