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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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #185
CE Offered: BACB

How Being a Visual Thinker Helped Me Understand Animals

Sunday, May 28, 2017
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 4
Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Chair: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
TEMPLE GRANDIN (Colorado State University)
Dr. Grandin is a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Her designs of livestock facilities are located worldwide. In North America, half of cattle are handled in a center track restrainer system that she designed. Her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have led to the reduction of stress during handling. She has developed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs, and conducts research in cattle temperament, environmental enrichment, and training procedures. Dr. Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College, her M.S. at Arizona State University, and her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois. She teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and is a livestock industry consultant. She has appeared on numerous television shows, has a TED Lecture, "The World Needs ALL Kinds of Minds," and in 2010 Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people. Dr. Grandin has authored over 400 articles, and is the author of Thinking in Pictures, Livestock Handling and Transport, Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals, Humane Livestock Handling , Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human.

All my thoughts are in pictures. When somebody says a word, I see a picture in my imagination. If I think about the word goose, I start visualizing pictures of geese, such as Canada geese on the campus quad, Mother Goose of the nursery rhyme, and flocks of geese in corn fields. When I was in my twenties, I thought everybody thought the same way I did. In my first work with cattle, I observed that they would often refuse to move across a shadow on the ground or a coat on a fence. It was obvious to me to look at what the animal was seeing because of the way my thought processes worked. Research studies now provide evidence that animals have specific sensory-based memories. One study showed that habituating a horse to the sudden opening of an umbrella does not transfer to flapping tarp. In my own work, I discovered that if I removed the coat from the fence, the cattle would move easily through the chute. In my work with flighty antelopes, our team was able to condition Nyala and Bongo antelopes to voluntarily enter a box for a feed reward and then receive injections and be blood sampled. A new sudden novel stimulus will send these animals crashing into wall. To prevent this, we had to spend ten days habituating them to the sliding door on the box BEFORE we could start standard operant conditioning. The first day the door was opened only one inch and when the animal oriented towards me, I stopped moving it. The next day it was moved 2 inches. To prevent an antelope from having a massive behavioral response we stopped moving the door when it turned and oriented its head towards it. Never push the antelope past the orienting response when a new thing is introduced.

Target Audience:

Individuals interested in animal management.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) have a better understanding of an animal's sensory based memories; (2) understand how to habituate flighty excitable animals to a new apparatus; (3) discuss operant conditioning methods, their importance, and how they do not explain all behavior.



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