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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #86
Economic Behavior and Interventions in Everyday Life: What Can Behavior Analysis Offer?
Monday, September 30, 2019
11:30 AM–12:20 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 2, C3
Area: CSS; Domain: Translational
Chair: Timothy D. Hackenberg (Reed College)

This symposium brings together three studies by authors from different research groups to discuss how behavior analysis can contribute to interventions dealing with economic behavior and everyday life matters. The first presentation proposes a functional interpretation of strategies known as nudges, that is, strategies derived from the field of behavioral economics for policymaking in different sectors (such as public health, education and energy efficiency). The second presentation will describe an intervention that aims to promote ethical behavior in bank employees in the United Kingdom, based on an approach focused on antecedent and consequent factors. The third presentation will describe an intervention based on procedures of functional analysis and fading out for the reduction of smoke consumption. Thus, the symposium attempts to gather research from the theoretical domain (the first presentation) to the applied one (second and third presentations) that discuss possibilities for behavior analysts to design effective interventions in different contexts, from individual to social.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Behavioral Economics, Ethical Behavior, Nudge, Smoke consumption

A Functional Interpretation of Nudging Strategies

CESAR ANTONIO ALVES DA ROCHA (Universidade de Sao Paulo)

Introduced as an innovative way to design public policy, "libertarian paternalism" is a proposition derived from behavioral economics whose main goal would be to interfere with choice behavior without coercive methods. A key concept for such perspective is "choice architecture", which aludes to different sets of contextual arrangements designed to redirect choice in a way that although a defined course of action is favored, all alternative paths are kept available and easy to reach. "Default-option", "salience" and "social norms" are commonly adopted strategies (i.e. "nudges"), but that is not clear what exactly group them all together. Relying on previously developed research, the aim of this conceptual study is to provide a functional interpretation of nudging strategies as described by their original proponents. The presentation will show how nudging strategies may me interpreted as a matter of manipulating response cost, stimulus control and establishing operations, as well as that there seems to be no clear connection between them except for their presumed noncoercive nature. Thus, the presentation will also introduce a question yet unsolved, that is, whether or not the meaning of coercion is the same for behavioral economists and behavior analysts.


Planning an Intervention to Raise Ethical Behaviors in UK Bank Employees

(Applied Research)

Self-reported surveys, collected from UK bank employees for three years (2016-2018) show stability in how employees identify (un)ethical behaviors in their workplace. Identifying and manipulating ethical behaviors that already exist in the working routine of bankers is a more feasible goal than trying to shape completely new behaviors in this population. Bank employees have to constantly allocate their time and effort among different, concurrent, tasks. As in any concurrent schedule, this allocation is controlled by the contingencies in place, including monetary and social reinforcement. Interventions to increase ethical behaviors should increase the preference for “ethical” tasks. This, however, requires a functional analysis of Ethical Behaviors, their antecedents and consequences. For antecedents, ethical judgements depend on the social group(s) the subject belongs to and what they consider “good” or “bad”. Consequences depend on the visibility and significance of the impact caused on others. In preparation for future interventions, this exploratory study searches for empirical/descriptive evidence on “who” bank employees identify as the parties impacted by their actions and the kind of "good" or "bad" social feedback/judgement they receive. Increasing employee’s preference for ethical tasks (instead of other tasks) require increasing the sources and/or magnitude of the positive social reinforcement produced by these actions.


Functional Analysis and Fading out on Smoke Consumption

(Applied Research)
FERNANDA CASTANHO CALIXTO (Federal University of São Carlos; Paradigma Centre for Sciences and Behavioral Technology ), Roberto Alves Banaco (Paradigma Centre for Sciences and Behavioral Technology), Maria de Jesus Dutra Dutra dos Reis (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)

Smoking is a behavioral pattern that negatively affects the smoker’s health. Consequently, the effectiveness of programs to reduce smoking became the focus of scientific investigation. The present study investigated the effect of a behavioral analytic program, conducted individually on the frequency of smoking and CO levels. The experimental design was multicomponent. Participants were eight smokers with CO level equal or above 11 ppm. The study was comprised of five phases. On Phase 1, the frequency of smoking and CO levels were recorded. On Phase 2, functional analysis of smoking took place. On Phase 3, participants were instructed to gradually increase the interval between cigarettes. In Phase 4, participants were instructed to use behavioral-analytical strategies for the reduction of smoking. Phase 5 was the return to Phase 1`s conditions. Follow up measures were recorded three and six months after the conclusion of the study. For all participants, smoking rate and the CO level were reduced by at least 60 percent. Strategies for maintaining therapeutic gains are presented in the discussion.




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