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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Workshop Details

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Workshop #W58
CE Offered: BACB/PSY/QABA — 
The Evolution of a Science: A Brief History of Behavior Analysis in the Twentieth Century
Friday, May 22, 2020
8:00 AM–3:00 PM
To Be Determined
Area: PCH/TBA; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: A. Charles Catania, Ph.D.
A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Description: This history of our science reviews its origins and the co-evolution of basic and applied research in the context of major world events. Precursors through 1900 include Darwin and Thorndike. 1900s: Behavior emerges as a subject matter; 1910s: Watson's Behaviorist Manifesto; 1920s: Learning theorists; 1930s: Skinner joins Keller at Harvard, later writes Behavior of Organisms; 1940s: World War II leads to shaping, Walden Two, other innovations; 1950s: The Cold War provides context for Science and Human Behavior, Verbal Behavior; SEAB and JEAB founded; 1960s: The science grows despite cognitive-behavioral culture wars; JABA founded; our own organizations develop; applications and basic work grow side by side (e.g., "psychotic children"; time out); 1970s: Applications foster founding of programs; international extensions grow; the field, with roots in psychology, sees a viable future outside it; 1980s: Treatments of autism, self-injury, etc., establish conditions for credentialing and professional extensions; 1990s: Behavior analysis thrives mainly in cultural niches, but an explosion of applications brings increasing recognition; The 21st Century: Where do we go from here? (This workshop is based on a book in progress with Nancy Neef and Victor Laties as co-authors. It will probably be Catania's last ABAI workshop.)
Learning Objectives: 1. Participants should be able to describe how basic concepts (reinforcement, the operant, the 3-term contingency) evolved and played a role in the expanding influence of behavior analysis. 2. Participants should be able to outline how basic and applied dimensions of behavior analysis evolved in combination in the early history of the field, then separated mainly for practical editorial reasons, and eventually came back together to provide reciprocal benefits in translational studies and in the basic questions raised by applications. 3. Participants should be able to identify the innovations of major founders of behavior analysis, especially including Keller, Skinner, Schoenfeld, Ferster and Sidman. 4. Participants should be able to describe how the work of the major founders contributed to education in general and the education of those on the autism spectrum in particular. 5. Participants should be able to identify the 20th century contexts within which the major features of behavior analysis were created and evolved. 6. Participants should be able to identify factors that led to negative views of behavior analysis within the general culture: from aircribs and timeout and use of punishment to issues of verbal behavior and human freedom.
Activities: This workshop will consist of lecture organized by decades of the twentieth century, with breaks (usually between decades) for discussion and for exercises in historical fact-checking.
Audience: The content should be of interest to all behavior analysts, and especially to those relatively new to the field. It should also be useful for those who teach either basic or applied courses or practica and who wish to enrich the discussion of our history and the origins of our behavioral tools and methods. The workshop will demonstrate the cumulative nature of central concepts and will also emphasize how basic and applied research developed side by side from the very beginning. Early behavior analysts didn't even make the distinction, which came relatively late as a consequence of managing the practicalities of journal editing. To the extent that the two approaches have moved apart, translational research is drawing them back together.
Content Area: Theory
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): application milestones, behavior-analysis founders, experimental milestones, theoretical milestones



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