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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Special Event #549
CE Offered: BACB
Presidential Address: The Heart of Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 27, 2019
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom A-F
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Mark A. Mattaini (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)
CE Instructor: Peter Killeen, Ph.D.

Presidential Address: The Heart of Behavior Analysis


I begin by thumbnailing the vision statements of the recent presidents of ABAI, where I find important commonalities and consilience with my sense our field, its history and possible futures. All presidents worried about the fractionation of behavior analysis, and believed that productive cross-fertilization among those fractions was decreasing. Many worried about our stature in the larger community of behavioral scientists, and the lack of cross-talk with them; some were concerned about the health of the basic science itself. Several pointed to the importance of developing new research and practice endeavors, extending the reach of behavior analysis to complex interactions among individuals in natural settings, and crafting new analytic tools to capture those. I review the heart of behavior analysis in futures past—those visions that made us a strong and effective scientific and therapeutic force during the 20th century—our Baroque and Classical years—and our Modernist aspirations for the 21st. I ask what we must do to keep our rhythm, to maintain our dynamism—now that that future is upon us. My tentative answers have several parts and action plans, with most addressing the shared concerns of the presidents. They include explorations of both the cities of the interior, and the countryside of the exterior; the development of a science of selection by antecedents to complement that of selection by consequences; and, because much of what researchers and practitioners do is as much art in the service of science and practice as textbook science or technology—finding ways to begin to understand and foster the artistic aspects of our crafts.

PETER KILLEEN (Arizona State University)

Dr. Peter Killeen is professor emeritus at Arizona State University; he has also been visiting scholar at the University of Texas, Cambridge University, and the Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo. He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, a Senior Scientist Awardee from NIMH, a president of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (from which organization he received the Poetry in Science Award), held the American Psychological Association F. J. McGuigan Lectureship on Understanding the Human Mind (!), and received the Ernest and Josephine Hilgard Award for the Best Theoretical Paper on hypnosis (!!). Dr. Killeen has made many innovative and fundamental contributions to the experimental and quantitative analysis of behavior. His major work includes the development of incentive theory, culminating in the mathematical principles of reinforcement (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1994), and the behavioral theory of timing (BeT: Psychological Review, 1988), and a new theory of ADHD. He is the author of 200 peer-reviewed papers, most of which have been cited; a few ignored; a couple cursed. He has served on the boards of editors of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Behavioural ProcessesJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Psychological Review, Brain & Behavioral Functions, and Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews. Dr. Killeen's quantitative and conceptual developments have enriched behavior analysis and the world beyond.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts. 

Learning Objectives:

After enduring this over-hyped but in retrospect amazingly worthwhile hour, you will be able to (or at least be inspired to, and expect me to question you about):

  • Identify the awardees of the 2019 fellows and councilors and what they have accomplished;
    • Say why we so much admire what they have given to our field.
    • Pick one of them and select their virtues to emulate, and describe how you will do that. Heroes are very, very important; not for them, but for you and your community. Please do this real-time as they are presented. Defend your sentiment with the person to the right of you. (If you are left-handed, to the left of you).
  • Argue with peers over:
    • The role of emotions in the science of behavior.
    • How we can begin to formulate a science of selection by antecedents.
    • Whether Art has any place in Science; are they Part and Parcel—or different Magisteria.
  • Contemplate which of the possible futures of behavior analysis is best for your aspirations. Formulate those aspirations in one sentence.  Make them happen.



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