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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #263
CE Offered: BACB
ABA Revisited: Understanding and Treating Psychopathic, Callous and Unemotional, Depressed and Anxious Behaviors
Sunday, May 28, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 4
Area: CBM/DEV; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)
CE Instructor: Jeannie A. Golden, Ph.D.

Typically, applied behavior analysis has focused on individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders. Often behavior analysts shy away from addressing areas of psychopathology, such as the adult psychopath, conduct disorders with callous, unemotional traits, depression and anxiety. These diagnoses and their symptoms involve private events and are therefore difficult to operationally define, observe and measure. However, Friman and others have suggested that behavior analysts should not ignore these important areas because they will then be studied only by non-behaviorists. Unfortunately, non-behaviorists view aberrant behaviors in individuals with psychiatric disorders as symptoms of underlying constructs and use the diagnosis as a reason for these behaviors, proposing more global treatments such as therapies or medications. On the other hand, behaviorists view those behaviors as serving an environmental function that can be replaced with a more acceptable behavior serving the same function. The behavioral perspective would also include an analysis/understanding of establishing operations in the form of private events, physical sensations, bio-behavioral states, psychological feelings, and covert tacts/mands and learning history with particular discriminative stimuli for reinforcement or punishment. The presenters in this symposium will present their analyses of these areas from a behavioral perspective and provide treatment strategies that are based on these analyses.

Instruction Level: Intermediate

Understanding and Treating Children With Attachment Disorders and/or Conduct Disorders Exhibiting Callous-Unemotional Traits

JEANNIE A. GOLDEN (East Carolina University)

Many children who experienced early abuse/neglect, multiple placements and multiple caregivers have experienced significant trauma and are often labeled with attachment disorders or conduct disorders. The impact that this may have on the childs behavior is likely to cause continued problems for the child and those providing care and treatment. Inappropriate behaviors may be related to learning histories and contingencies that are not observable in the immediate environment. Feelings may be establishing operations for the salience of particular reinforcers and punishers. Certain adult and peer behaviors may be discriminative stimuli for particular reinforcers and punishers in childrens learning histories. Negative peer models and nave adults may provide inadvertent reinforcement for inappropriate behaviors such as lying, stealing and cheating. The presenter will discuss the impact that this learning history has the effectiveness of behavioral treatments as well as generalization of treatment effects. Alternate treatment approaches, such as trauma-based therapy, which are more likely to promote change that will generalize to the natural environment, will be presented in a behavioral framework.


Psychopathy, Social Learning Theory, and Behavior Analysis: An Examination of the Genesis of Deviant Social Development and the Impact on Criminality

ANDRE V. MAHARAJ (Florida International University)

A disproportionately large number of inmates that have committed brutal crimes, such as homicide, have been reliably shown to demonstrate traits of psychopathy. The genesis of the deviance thought to be linked to such underlying traits of violence may be examined within the framework of Social Learning Theory. Such a framework has deep-rooted behavioral underpinnings, specifically with respect to differential reinforcement. By examining the differences among individuals displaying a demonstrated history of reinforcement to stimuli, such as signs of damage, it may be possible to alter contributing environmental factors, and thus mediate maladaptive developmental trajectories. It is suggested that such an intervention could be informed by targeting the behavioral correlates of callous and unemotional traits, which have been linked to the development of adult psychopathy. The benefits to doing so may aid in the reduction of violent criminal behavior. Research methodology and practical procedures are discussed.


Assessing and Treating Anxious and Depressed Behaviors in Adolescents

Katy Scott (East Carolina University), JEANNIE A. GOLDEN (East Carolina University)

Coping with anxiety and depression is particularly difficult during adolescence. Living in a rural community that is lacking in resources can make these diagnoses even more difficult. Understanding how these behaviors can serve as establishing operations and have functions in the form of direct escape or socially mediated access is helpful in developing interventions that promote more positive behaviors such as treatment adherence, seeking support, and coping effectively. The presenter works with adolescents who are being treated at a school-based health clinic which serves high school students in a rural, impoverished geographic area. The presenter will describe how to conduct a functional assessment and analysis of motivating operations in the treatment of behaviors related to anxiety and depression.




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