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 #171
CE Offered: BACB
Humanism, Behaviorism and Constructivism: Ism it Interesting?
Sunday, May 28, 2017
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom F/G
Area: PCH/EDC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Zoe Alexis Barbara (Salem State University)
Discussant: Abraham Graber (Western Illinois University)
CE Instructor: Darlene E. Crone-Todd, Ph.D.
Abstract: Behaviorism as a philosophy has provided behavior analysts with a scientific method by which to study, analyze, and promote adaptive behavior in various environments. In the applied behavior analysis (ABA) realm, the applied dimension directly relates to ensuring that the programs and interventions used by behavior analysts lead to more reinforcement and overall quality of life for clients and students. This approach, and philosophical position, is consistent with other theoretical perspectives with the same aim, such as humanism and constructivism. These latter two approaches often dominate therapeutic and educational settings, and tend to exclude behavior analysis in many cases. In this symposium, the presenters will provide an analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of these approaches in which we argue that a behaviorist approach is necessary in order to achieve the goals of the other approaches. We will also discuss how to help others, as Skinner suggests, “listen to what they are ready to hear”. Thus, it behooves specialists to work together to achieve their goals.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): behaviorism, constructivism, humanism, philosophy
On Being a Humanistic Behaviorist
DARLENE E. CRONE-TODD (Salem State University)
Abstract: The fields of experimental (EAB) and applied behavior analysis (ABA) have behaviorism as their underlying philosophy, which emphasizes a scientific and deterministic approach to understanding and explaining behavior or all organisms in operant and respondent terms. This approach is often contrasted with other theoretical and philosophical perspectives in psychology. One such perspective is humanistic psychology, as emphasized by Rogers and Maslow, which has a focus on the "whole person" in terms of their ability to move toward self-actualization. This approach is often viewed as de-emphasizing a scientific approach; however, in this presentation, it will be argued that the applied dimension of ABA is actually congruent with many aspects of a humanistic approach to behaviorism, and that such a combined approach is beneficial for the field. In addition, an analysis of secular humanism versus psychological humanism will be explored, and a synthesis will be presented between the two types of humanism and behaviorism.

Behaviorism, Constructivism, and Education

KENT JOHNSON (Morningside Academy)

Applied behavior analysis has been relegated to the outskirts of American education. Most general educators believe that behaviorism is either dead, or useful only for solving social behavior problems or teaching special education students. In order to have greater influence, behavior analysts need to know the tenets of the current dominant theory of learning, constructivism, to build a more effective case for our alternative. This presentation will thus describe three types of constructivism: Piagets original organismic, developmental radical constructivism; mechanistic, information processing constructivism; and contextual, social constructivism. In that context, behavior analysts can posit their own -ism, instructivism, which involves transmission of culture by directly teaching skills and concepts to learners; and describe a broader educational process that juxtaposes instructivism and constructivism to facilitate constructivist practices involving learners creating meaning through inquiry and critical thinking. Indeed a full behavioral education model must involve iterative bouts of traditional behavioral instructivist practices, and building complex repertoires from the component repertoires thus established by teaching generative repertoires like questioning, reasoning and problem solving. Finally this presentation will show how generative behavioral education can do a better job than current constructivist design by further proceduralizing John Deweys Reflective Thinking process.




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