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 #225
CE Offered: None

Varieties of Scientific Research

Sunday, May 30, 2004
2:30 PM–3:20 PM
Republic B
Area: TPC; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Armando Machado, Ed.D.
Chair: David C. Palmer (Smith College)
ARMANDO MACHADO (University of Minho, Portugal)
Armando Machado was an undergraduate student in Portugal, studied for two years in Belgium, and then in 1993 obtained his PhD with John Staddon at Duke University. His doctoral research on the conditions in which pigeons generate highly variable behavior received the Annual Dissertation Award from Division 25 of APA. From 1994 until 2000, Armando was a professor at Indiana University (first Assistant and then Associate with tenure). In 2001, he moved to the University of Minho in the north of Portugal where he continues to study a variety of issues related to behavior and learning (e.g., time and number discrimination, choice). In most of his studies, Armando contrasts data with the predictions of simple mathematical models of behavior. In addition to the psychology of learning and mathematics, he has interests in evolutionary biology, philosophy, and the history of psychology. His work has been published in various journals (e.g., Psychological Review, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Psychological Science, Behavior and Philosophy, etc.) and funded by NIH and the Portuguese Science Foundation. He was the Program Chair and then the President of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior. He served as Associate Editor of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review and is currently a member of the editorial board of several journals. In collaboration with Francisco Silva from the University of Redlands, Armando Machado has just published a hands-on, graphics-based workbook to be used in the teaching of learning.

Since its inception in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, modern science has been characterized by a rich variety of activities. Researchers experiment in the laboratory, quantify functional relations, build theories and models, test hypotheses, estimate parameters, refine old techniques and devise new ones, review manuscripts, etc. By means of these activities, the scientist moves constantly from Observation to Theory and from Theory to Observation. The bridge connecting the two domains is, broadly speaking, the scientific method. I will elaborate on the scientific method with the aim of singling out for analysis the subset of scientific activities related to conceptual investigations. Through examples from the study of Learning and Behavior (e.g., models and theories of time and number discrimination, choice, and schedule performance), I will attempt to characterize conceptual investigations, describe some of their types and purposes, and identify their limitations. If scientific progress requires not only the colligation of facts but also the clarification of concepts, then standard methodology courses and textbooks must replace a narrow, algorithmic view of method, with a wider view, a view in which the varieties of scientific research in general and conceptual investigations in particular receive their proper weight.




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