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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Paper Session #41
Neobehaviorism and Radical Behaviorism
Sunday, September 29, 2019
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 2, C4
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Christoffer K. Eilifsen (Oslo and Akershus University College)
Is Applied Behavior Analysis Hullian?
Domain: Theory
CHRISTOFFER K. EILIFSEN (Oslo Metropolitan University), Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Abstract: In a debate on the use of internal states in behavior analysis, John C. Malone has proposed that the use of terms such as discriminative stimulus and reinforcement in the literature of applied behavior analysis is virtually identical to the use of similar terms by the neobehaviorist Clark L. Hull. As such, applied behavior analysis seem to be influenced as much by Hull as by B. F. Skinner. A contrasting, and likely more common view is that Skinner has wielded great influence on modern behavior analysis, including its applied domain, while Clark Hull’s take on behaviorism has virtually been completely replaced or submerged by cognitive psychology. The current paper will present characteristics of Hull’s work, contrast it with the work of B. F. Skinner, and discuss what happened to Hull’s behaviorism during and following the so-called cognitive revolution. Finally, the paper will look at methods used today in behavior analytic interventions for persons with autism and developmental disabilities in the context of the behaviorism of both Hull and Skinner.
An Important Chapter in the Story of Behaviorism
Domain: Theory
JAY MOORE (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Abstract: Classical S => R behaviorism developed in the first quarter of the 20th century. However, by early in the second quarter of the 20th century this form of behaviorism was judged to be inadequate. Traditional researchers and theorists then postulated a neobehaviorism to replace classical behaviorism. According to neobehaviorism, organismic variables intervened between stimulus and response. These organismic variables were typically assumed to be mental in character. They were then cast as theoretical terms, specifically as hypothetical constructs, to serve as proxies for the mental variables. An interpretation of operationism that admitted “surplus meaning” was claimed to make this whole approach scientifically respectable. As an aside, we note that this same interpretation continues in contemporary cognitive psychology. Skinner’s radical behaviorism challenges the traditional, neobehaviorist approach to theorizing in psychology by arguing that it is merely a methodological behaviorism because of its disguised commitment to ineffective mental variables. The heart of the radical behaviorist challenge begins with an operant, behavioral approach to verbal behavior rather than a mentalistic approach, regardless of whether that verbal behavior is concerned with a scientific or lay subject matter.



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