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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Invited Symposium #70
CE Offered: BACB
Culturo-Behavioral Science: Philosophical, Structural, and Application Considerations
Monday, September 30, 2019
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 4, A1
Area: CSS; Domain: Theory
Chair: Jenna Mrljak (Association for Behavior Analysis International)
Discussant: Jonathan Krispin (Valdosta State University)
CE Instructor: Jenna Mrljak, Ph.D.

Many have been inspired by B. F. Skinner’s vision of how the science of behavior can improve culture. However, the understanding of “culture” has different meanings within our scientific community, challenging our conceptual framework and interpretation of applied work. This symposium explores ontological and epistemological aspects of “cultural analysis” from a behavioral perspective; discusses “culture” as a complex adaptive system, with many integrated moving parts; and illustrates how culturo-behavioral analysis can complement the work of Nobel-prize winner Elinor Ostrom in the management of common pool resources.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, attendees will be able to: (1) identify at least two approaches behavior analysts have taken in addressing relations of behavioral and cultural phenomena; (2) distinguish the identifying characteristics of behavioral and cultural phenomena; (3) formulate their own answer to the question regarding how to view culturo-behavioral science; (4) identify the functional relation between a culture-behavioral unit and its environment, (5) discuss the impact of structural phenomena; (6) distinguish between the deliberately designed and the evolving systems from an applied perspective; (7) identify the differences between institutional and culturo-behavioral analysis.
Some Philosophical Questions for Culturo-Behavioral Science
SIGRID GLENN (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Science and philosophy are inextricably linked in intellectual history. One might argue that science has increasingly assumed the philosophical tasks of addressing ontological and epistemological questions. Indeed, B. F. Skinner began his career by considering the ontology of behavior (Skinner, 1935) and he insisted throughout that the science of behavior offered a scientific epistemology (Skinner, 1945; 1974). In this paper, I will consider several philosophy of science questions pertaining to investigation of the phenomena of behavior and culture. How are behavioral and cultural phenomena related in nature? What approaches have behavior analysts taken in addressing those relations? Are any of the currently proposed unifying frameworks likely to be useful in an integrative approach? Is culturo-behavioral science an emerging discipline, an amalgamation of previously established disciplines, or simply behavior analysis in the context of cultural phenomena?

Sigrid Glenn is Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of North Texas.  She was the founding chair of UNT’s Department of Behavior Analysis and the founder and former director of UNT’s Behavior Analysis Online program. Her published research includes work in conceptual, experimental and applied areas; current interests are primarily conceptual and philosophical, especially as these pertain to culturo-behavioral systems. Dr. Glenn is past president of ABAI and a founding fellow of the Association. She was the 2015 recipient of the Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis. Other awards include TxABA Award for Career Contributions to Behavior Analysis in Texas; CalABA’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Behavior Analysis; the Michael Hemingway Award for Advancement of Behavior Analysis; the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies Ellen P. Reese Award in Recognition for Significant Contributions to Communication of Behavioral Concepts; and--most important to her--the ABAI 2008 Student Committee Award for Outstanding Mentorship of students.

Structure Matters
INGUNN SANDAKER (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
Abstract: Culture can be defined as a complex social system with observable characteristics that are evolving and relatively stable over time, even as members of the culture are replaced. This implies that what are replicated are not individuals, but relatively stable contingencies of reinforcement. A system, also a social system, is maintained by its functional relation to its environment. This may be for good or bad. As for behaviors in general, selection is blind. The within-systems processes (interlocking behavioral contingencies: IBCs) and structures maintain the functional relation to the system’s environment, even though individual members will be replaced. The concept of metacontingencies offers a behavioral approach to cultural systems by describing the processes (IBCs) and the functional relation to the environment (aggregate product and receiving system) while network analysis may offer a means to analyze how contingencies of reinforcement are nested structurally. All three basic properties of a system (function, processes, and structure) will guide us when it comes to understanding and influencing behaviors in cultural units.
Dr. Ingunn Sandaker is a professor and program director of the Master and Research Program Learning in Complex Systems at Oslo and Akershus University College. She also initiated the development of the first Ph.D. program in behavior analysis in Norway. She has been the program director since it was established in 2010. She received her Ph.D. in 1997 at the University of Oslo with a grant from the Foundation for Research in Business and Society at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. Her thesis was a study on the systemic approach to major changes in two large companies; one pharmaceutical company and one gas and petroleum company. During preparations for the Olympic games in Sydney, Australia, and Nagano, Japan, she was head of evaluation of a program aiming at extending female participation in management and coaching and assisting the Norwegian Olympic Committee’s preparations for the games. For a number of years, Dr. Sandaker worked as an adviser on management training and performance in STATOIL and Phillips Petroleum Co. in Norway. She also was project manager for Railo International who in cooperation with the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration ran a project preparing the electricity supply system in Norway for marked deregulations. Serving as a consultant on top level management programs in Norwegian energy companies, her interest has been focused on performance management within a systems framework. Trying to combine the approaches from micro-level behavior analysis with the perspective of learning in complex systems, and cultural phenomena, she is interested in integrating complementary scientific positions with the behavior analytic conceptual framework.
Integrating Institutional and Culturo-Behavioral Analyses to the Management of Common Pool Resources
MARIA MALOTT (Association for Behavior Analysis International)
Abstract: The “tragedy of the commons” describes a depletion of resources that have been appropriated by a group of people. Previous scholars concluded that the only ways to avoid depletion of resources were private ownership or external governmental control. In Ostrom’s institutional analysis, she identified a third solution to the tragedy of the commons. She analyzed multiple small communities lasting hundreds, even thousands, of years in which the appropriators themselves managed their common pool of resources without external government control or privatization. She also identified eight design principles that characterize successful management of shared resources. Later, she developed additional principles analyzing more complex social systems. We bring behavioral and cultural selection perspectives to complement her work. We analyze appropriators’ management of common pool resources in terms of metacontingencies and macrocontingencies operating within larger external systems. We conclude with a description of complementary principles to guide management of shared resources.
After completing undergraduate work at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Venezuela, Maria E. Malott immediately began what can only be termed a distinguished career in large scale performance management. After 2 years as performance systems analyst for the Central Office of Personnel in Venezuela, she entered the graduate program in applied behavior analysis at Western Michigan University, obtaining her Ph.D. in 1987. In 1989 she was hired as production manager at Ronningen Research & Development and within 2 years was vice-president of manufacturing for that company. In 1993, she began a consulting career, and has consulted in the areas of advertising, restaurants, retail, manufacturing, hotels, banking, government, and other institutions. Her clients have included General Motors Corporation; Meijer, Inc.; Kellogg's; Pharmacia & Upjohn; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute at the University of Arizona. In all of this work, Dr. Malott combines systems analysis with the analysis of individual behavior within systems and, in the process, has taught dozens of corporate executives to appreciate the power of behavioral principles.    Dr. Malott has been a visiting scholar at 32 universities in 15 different countries and has served as an affiliated faculty member at five universities. She has served on four editorial boards and is the author of a book on organizational change, published in Spanish and in English, and co-author of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions of one of the most widely used and often-translated textbooks in behavior analysis, Elementary Principles of Behavior. Dr. Malott was the recipient of the 2003 Award for International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis and the 2012 Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, as well as the 2004 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Organizational Behavior Management. In 1993, she agreed to serve as part-time executive director of the Association for Behavior Analysis and is now its CEO. Within a few short years, the association rose from near-bankruptcy to become a financially stable scientific and professional organization. Her organizational behavior management skills have been applied to every aspect of the operation of ABAI, which serves more than 6,000 members and is the parent organization of more than 80 affiliated chapters.



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