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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Special Event #512
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Presidential Address: Identity
Monday, May 29, 2017
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom (Plenary)
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Presidential Address
Chair: M. Jackson Marr (Georgia Tech)
CE Instructor: M. Jackson Marr, Ph.D.

Presidential Address: Identity


The word identity seems ubiquitous. It is a focus of contemporary social science, appears regularly in the media, and occurs increasingly often in everyday conversation, especially on college campuses and among the cultural cognoscenti. Typically, it is used as or paired with a descriptor - such as gender identity, ethnic identity, or identity crisis - and then offered as an explanation of some behavioral phenomena, including gender and ethnic differences, the results of presidential elections, and even B. F. Skinner’s enrollment in graduate school following his “dark year” as a fledging writer. While behavior analysts eschew such explanations, most people, including most behavioral and social scientists, are more interested in the temporally extended patterns of complex behavior subsumed by terms like identity than they are in the foci of much current behavior analytic research. Cogent behavioral accounts of identity and related phenomena are available, but typically garner little attention. Borrowing from these, a behavior analysis of identity is presented and then used to reflect on the identity of behavior analysis itself. If identity consists of patterns of behavior, it appears that our identity is changing. Within behavior analysis, the extraordinary success of the applied wing has overshadowed our identity as a basic behavioral science. Outside behavior analysis, our identity as a viable, comprehensive behavioral science has diminished. We appear to be having an identity crisis, and if it is important to retain our scientific identity, we need to address it.

MICHAEL J. DOUGHER (University of New Mexico)
Dr. Michael J. Dougher is professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, which is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing the breadth and crosscurrents of teaching, research, and service in his distinguished career. Trained at the University of Illinois, Chicago as a clinical psychologist, his career exemplifies the scientist-practitioner model of that discipline. He has published widely on the analysis and treatment of such clinical problems as pain, depression, and addictive behavior. His research, however, has extended far beyond the traditional boundaries of clinical psychology. He has brought creative basic analyses of verbal behavior and stimulus equivalence to bear on the understanding of not only the origins of clinical syndromes, but also new possible lines of approaches to their treatment. These complementary analyses of basic and applied research earned him the APA Division 25 Don Hake Award. Along these same lines, it is telling to note that Dr. Dougher served concurrently on ABAI's Practice Board and as the experimental representative to its executive council. His record of service also includes terms as president of ABAI and APA's Division 25, and on numerous boards and task forces related to professional issues in psychology. On these boards and task forces, he consistently has been a strong, thoughtful, and diplomatic representative of a behavior analytic perspective.   These same adjectives characterize his editorial contributions to behavior analysis, as editor of The Behavior Analyst, associate editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and as a member of the editorial boards of six other journals. In addition, Dr. Dougher has provided equally exceptional service to his students and university. This mentor of 25 doctoral students has received several teaching awards, including being named the University of New Mexico Teacher of the Year in 1995. Prior to his present appointment, he served as the department's director of clinical training and also department chair, then associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Sciences, then senior vice provost for Academic Affairs, and thereafter as the University of New Mexico’s vice president for research.
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: Pending
Keyword(s): Presidential Address



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