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

Event Details

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Special Event #610
Diversity submission Presidential Address: Compassionate Behaviorism
Monday, May 25, 2020
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 3, Ballroom AB
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Peter R. Killeen (Arizona State University)
CE Instructor: Peter R. Killeen, Ph.D.
Diversity submission 

Presidential Address: Compassionate Behaviorism


Many are concerned about the state of the world. The effects of climate change, political polarization, and backlash to social movements that cultivate equality threaten our future. Even outside and within our own discipline, conflict continues. Many of us joined ABAI because we support the vision that the problems of the world can be solved through the principles of behavior analysis. Can they?

Perhaps. Many of the answers to the world’s problems still reside within the discipline; indeed, our own community of behavior scientists and behavior analysts have continued to generate some of the solutions. However, seeking perspective outside of the discipline to understand the complex contingencies of social groups, networks, and organizations is also critical. An integration of these viewpoints is the foundation for a compassionate behaviorism—a philosophy that includes the action and verbal behavior of humility, behavioral flexibility, self-control, perspective taking, and empathy. These terms will be carefully defined and their functions discussed. Compassionate behavioral action can be and should be practiced at multiple levels: toward our earth, towards outsiders of our verbal communities, to those within our verbal communities, and even towards ourselves.

ERIN RASMUSSEN (Idaho State University)
Dr. Erin B. Rasmussen received her Ph.D. in the Experimental Analysis of Behavior with a minor in behavioral pharmacology and toxicology from Auburn University under the direction of Dr. Christopher Newland. She is currently a professor of psychology at Idaho State University. The work from her animal and human laboratories has generated over 50 peer-reviewed publications. Most recently, she conducts research on the behavioral economics of food reinforcement in the context of obesity. Her latest series of studies, funded by the NIH, examines delay discounting in food insecure populations. She has served on the Science Board of the ABAI and is a past Associate Editor of Perspectives on Behavior Science (formerly The Behavior Analyst).
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students. 




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