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 #323
Sunday, May 26, 2019
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD North
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Darlene E. Crone-Todd (Salem State University)
CE Instructor: Darlene E. Crone-Todd, Ph.D.

CREATIVITY: The Stitching and the Unstitching Revisited: The Creative Tripod


There are no undebated definitions of “creativity” and any definition will reflect how this rich topic is treated. Nearly 20 years ago I discussed how behavior analysis might contribute—or not—to an understanding of creativity. I revisit this topic, expanding on some issues and reconsidering others. As before, I focus on scientific and mathematical accomplishments which tie closely to Weisberg’s placement of creative achievements in the domains of problem-posing and problem-solving. From the massive empirical, theoretical, and historical literature at least three essential and interlocking dimensions of significant creative achievements emerge: talent, expertise, and motivation. I emphasize “interlocking” because the productive expression of each of these elements depends on the others. The role of behavior analysis in these elements is modest, at best. It has nothing to say about talent—and even in some cases might deny its role altogether. As for expertise, with some notable exceptions, behavior analysis has had little to say about the acquisition of truly complex performances; this has been left to other fields. As for motivation, one must go well beyond naïve “pleasure and pain” accounts to more elusive, yet more powerful and pervasive behavior-consequence relations.

M. JACKSON MARR (Georgia Tech)
M. Jackson (Jack) Marr received a BS degree in 1961 from Georgia Tech where he studied mathematics, physics, engineering, and psychology.  He received a Ph.D. in experimental psychology with a minor in physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1966. He is professor emeritus of psychology at Georgia Tech where he has taught courses in physiology and behavior, behavioral pharmacology, probability & statistics, and the experimental analysis of behavior. He is one of five founding Fellows of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, a Fellow of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) and Division 3 (Experimental Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), a Fellow of the Psychonomic Society, and a Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences honoree. He was elected twice to president of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and served twice as president of the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis. He was also president of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) of APA and the Southeastern Association for Behavior Analysis. He was APA Council member representing Division 25.  He is the past editor of Behavior and Philosophy and continues to serve on its editorial board. He also serves as review editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. He served as the co-editor of Revista Mexicana de Análisis de la Conducta and as an associate editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Behavior Analyst. He was experimental representative to the executive council of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, served on the Board of Directors of The Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He has been particularly active in the international support and development of behavior analysis in Great Britain, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, China, and the Middle East. He was a Research Fellow in Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, a visiting professor at the Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, and the first eminent scholar invited to Jacksonville State University. He was a Navy contractor for Project Sanguine in a study of possible behavioral effects of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and an AIEE Senior Fellow at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, where he conducted research on the behavior effects of microwaves and of stimulant drugs on sustained military flight performance. For over 20 years he was involved through NSF grants and other support in the assessment and improvement of engineering education, including instructional design of systems to teach engineering physics. Current scholarly interests include dynamical systems theory, the quantitative analysis of behavior, comparative behavior analysis, and theoretical/conceptual issues in behavioral analysis.

CREATIVITY: All Creative Behavior is Operant, But Not All Operant Behavior is Creative


Creativity is goal-directed variation and selection. It is one tool in a problem-solving toolbox. If there are effective algorithms to solve problems, creativity is unnecessary and often counter-productive; few people want creative brain surgeons. The world however is unpredictable, and often algorithms, or learned habit patterns, or well-conditioned operant chains, fail. Then alternative routes to a goal must be found, and efficient production of and effective selection of alternative solution paths constitutes creativity. The pleasure in creative problem solving is so great for some individuals that they become artists, writing novels and composing music and painting scenes, where almost every move sets a problem, and ensuing ones solve it. Creativity itself can be created; there are both algorithms and heuristics that foster it. This talk will outline a number of those, embed them in a behavioral framework, and test your use of them with problems.

PETER KILLEEN (Arizona State University)
Dr. Peter Killeen is professor of psychology at Arizona State University, and 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, has held a Senior Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, has been president of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (from which organization he appropriately received the Poetry in Science Award in 2002), 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 (Killeen & Nash, 2003). Dr. Killeen has made many highly 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 (Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1994), and the behavioral theory of timing (Psychological Review, 1988). He is the author of 80 peer-reviewed papers, many of which have been heavily cited. He has served on the boards of editors of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Behavioural Processes, Journal 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; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe some of the richness and complexity of creative accomplishments; (2) describe the interlocking roles of talent, expertise, and motivation in creative accomplishments; (3) describe the quite modest role behavior analysis has played, or can play, in addressing creative accomplishments; (4) create a bug list; (5) distinguish lateral and convergent thinking; (6) get the creator and the critic in you under proper stimulus control; (7) outline a more general problem-solving framework, and identify where creativity resides in it; (8) foster play and unfoster rectitude.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh