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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Program by Special Events: Saturday, May 25, 2019


Special Event #13
CE Offered: BACB
Opening Event and Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Award Ceremony
Saturday, May 25, 2019
8:00 AM–9:20 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom A-F
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Michael J. Dougher (University of New Mexico)
CE Instructor: Michael J. Dougher, Ph.D.

SABA Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis: Kurt Salzinger: The Consummate Behaviorist in the Lab and at Home


This award will be accepted by Dr. Salzinger's wife, Deanna Chitayat.

KURT SALZINGER (Hofstra University)
Kurt Salzinger was born in Vienna, Austria in 1929; at 11 he fled the Nazis. Arriving in New York City in 1938, he attended the Bronx High School of Science, NYU, and Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in Psychology. As a committed behaviorist, Dr. Salzinger held positions at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Poly- technic University, the National Science Foundation, the American Psychological Association (APA), and Hofstra University. He was President of the New York Academy of Sciences where he initiated dialog with the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He was Executive Director of Science at the APA, among other roles, as well as President of the Association of Behavior Analysis and the Eastern Psychological Association. He wrote 14 books and 200 journal articles, and his work continues to be cited widely.

SABA Award for Scientific Translation: The Translational Science of Health Behavior Change: A Recruitment Call For Scientists


The health problems that result from our own behavior will increasingly become among the most important challenges to health. For example, alarming increases are already being observed in addiction, obesity, and medication non-adherence. However, efforts to improve these conditions and disorders are hindered by the poor efficacy of most of our treatments. This lack of efficacy, I would argue, results from insufficient understanding of the controlling variables. This is a unique opportunity for those interested in basic science and the underlying theory to make important contributions as translational researchers. I will illustrate these unique opportunities with the application of behavioral economics to important health behaviors.

WARREN BICKEL (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech)

Dr. Warren Bickel joined the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in 2011 and serves as Director of the Addiction Recovery Research Center and Co-Director of the Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors. In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to research and scholarship achievements, Dr. Bickel was recently awarded the Virginia Tech Carilion Behavioral Health Research Endowed Professorship. He has taught and led research programs at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the University of Vermont, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  NIH has funded Dr. Bickel’s work continuously since 1987. Dr. Bickel is an accomplished scholar and researcher whose accolades include receipt of the 2011 APA International Don Hake Translational Research Distinguished Contributions to Basic Research Award and the 2012 Brady-Schuster Award for Outstanding Behavioral Science Research in Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse, Division 28 of the American Psychological Association.  Dr. Bickel was honored to be the recipient of the 2016 Nathan B. Eddy Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. Dr. Bickel was Editor of the journal, Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, has co-edited five books, and has published over 400 papers and chapters. Dr. Bickel’s work is frequently cited and receives national and international recognition.


SABA Award for International Dissemination: Changing the World Through Behavior Analysis: An Exemplary Process of ABA Dissemination in Civil Society and among Governmental/Political Institutions


To make the exhortation "change the world with behavior analysis" a concrete reality, we need the behavior analyst figure to be known, well-estimated and respected by civil society and governmental institutions. At the beginning, we tried to get this approaching the insiders (especially psychologists and educators) to convince them of the goodness of our scientific and evidence-based approach, in order to increase the number of professionals.

Past failures. Unfortunately, to achieve this result we chose to act mainly in universities and public schools, through the publication and spread of experimental research articles and books addressed to psychologists and educators, not to mention all the presentations in congresses and conferences. In time this strategy turned out to be ineffective. In fact, in many countries still nowadays, despite thousands of debates and explanations, only few patients with special needs benefit from ABA treatments, as well as only few companies benefit from performance management, as well as only few hospitals benefit from behavior-based safety, and so on. To demonstrate this, in several countries still there is no law about, or in favor of, behavioral technologies.

A new successful strategy. Starting from the late ‘90s, a small group of ABA practitioners and scientists changed approach in order to get better results in the spread of behavior analysis. They chose to teach ABA to final users rather than to intermediaries (psychologists and educators) and so they started introducing ABA to new categories of professionals as dentists, managers, engineers, medical doctors and industrial safety consultants. The principles and methods of marketing were used to involve new professional categories and, in this way, always more users started to ask to the politicians for more behavior analysis.This unusual strategy demonstrated to be astonishingly better than the previous one. In recent years, in fact, politicians that used to be deaf to the effectiveness proofs brought about by behavior analysts started to care and to pay attention to the demands of professional categories (made by citizens and then voters). Many final users are now demanding for more ABA in their work environment. About this, a list of the actions required to replicate our experience will be presented.

The “ultimate strategy”. Even if the aforementioned marketing-of-a-science tactics are powerful, a faster and more comprehensive strategy it’s in place currently. Our present aim is to influence the state laws writing process in order to change the behaviors of all the stakeholders at the same time. State laws are in fact nothing but conditional statements that, specifying an antecedent, a behavior to be performed, and a consequence (usually a punishment for non-compliance), with the help of prominent judges and politicians could boost a national-level ABA capillary dissemination. Results of this last strategy application will be presented too.

FABIO TOSOLIN (A.A.R.B.A. - Association for the Advancement of Radical Behavior Analysis)

Fabio Tosolin is the behavior analyst and consultant that since the ‘80s has been introducing, spreading and applying Behavior Analysis and Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) principles both in Italy and Europe. In 1985, he founded his own consulting company, FT&A, that is specialized in Performance Management, Learning Technologies and Behavior-Based Safety (B-BS), for the last of which he’s also a referent of European level. His company counts hundreds of PM and B-BS processes implemented in plants and construction sites in Italy and around the world. He is currently professor of Human Factor in HSEQ Management at the Safety Engineering Master’s Degree course, Faculty of Industrial Processes, at Polytechnic of Milano and president of the Italian Associate Chapter of ABAI, made of both the oldest and largest Italian Behavior Analysis Scientific Societies (AARBA and AIAMC). Since 2003 he’s also chair of the European Scientific Conference on OBM, PM & B-BS, held by AARBA.


SABA Award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions in Behavior Analysis: Oregon Research Institute


Founded in 1960, Oregon Research Institute (ORI) is a non-profit, independent, behavioral sciences research center with an international reputation as a leader in research to help people lead healthier lives. ORI scientists embody the belief that the solutions to many of society’s most pressing health and social issues lie in our ability to understand and influence human behavior. ORI researchers apply fundamental behavior analysis and behavior change principles to develop and scientifically evaluate evidence-based interventions to promote health and wellbeing and to prevent and/or treat important behavioral health problems. ORI’s research focuses on (a) promoting healthy child development through interventions to improve parenting skills in at-risk families, improve school environments and instructional practices, and improve peer environments in and outside of school; (b) promoting psychological health through interventions to prevent and treat depression and eating disorders; (c) promoting physical health through interventions to improve diet and exercise throughout the lifespan and to reduce obesity; (d) preventing and treating substance abuse, through interventions focused on nicotine, alcohol, opioids, marijuana, and other drugs, and (e) implementing and disseminating evidence-based behavioral interventions into real-world settings, such as schools, healthcare settings, service agencies, whole communities, and public policy. ORI is funded by research grants from the National Institutes of Health and Institute on Education Sciences, and has 43 scientists and 50 active research projects. ORI is committed to scientific freedom and scientific excellence and provides a collegial and supportive research community for early career scientists and seasoned researchers alike.

CAROL METZLER (Oregon Research Institute)

Carol Metzler, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Oregon. Dr. Metzler is a Senior Scientist and the Science Director at Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon. As a scientist at ORI, she conducts research on parenting practices and child development, and evaluates the efficacy of family interventions for reducing or preventing behavior problems in children. She is particularly interested in research on promoting a public health framework for improving parenting practices and in evaluating the effects of delivering parenting information through non-clinical technology-based approaches. She is currently involved in projects to develop and evaluate technology-based approaches to providing parents of young children with parenting education and support, through video and the internet, and to integrate these parenting programs into pediatric primary care. In addition, Dr. Metzler is also engaged in efforts to summarize what is known about evidence-based programs for children and families and to investigate how these programs can be effectively moved into practice through better integration of science, practice, and policy. As Science Director at ORI, Dr. Metzler works to build awareness of the research done at ORI, build collaborative partnerships between ORI and other research and practice entities, recruit new scientists to ORI, and ensure that ORI continues to provide an optimally supportive environment for world-class behavioral research.

Special Event #99A
Remembering Gerald Mertens
Saturday, May 25, 2019
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, St. Gallen 1-3
Chair: Richard W. Malott (Western Michigan University)

Jerry Mertens was the founder of ABAI. If there had been no Jerry Mertens, there would be no ABAI, and you wouldn’t be a member of this wonderful organization. The first meeting of “ABAI” was, in 1974, under the name of “Organization Meeting: Midwestern Experimental Analysis of Behavior Group”. The next year, we became “MABA”, then “ABA”, and now “ABAI”. But Jerry started it all. Jerry was not a scholar, not a researcher; he had an MA (from the University of Mississippi). Instead he was a teacher, at Saint Cloud State University, for 53 years, from 1965 to 2018. Jerry trained up the undergrads and then shipped them off to grad schools around the country. And every summer, for years, he’d load a school bus full of undergrads and take them on a tour of the major behavioral centers around the country. If there had been no Jerry Mertens, there would be many people who would not be behavior analysts today. In recognition of his contribution to our field, ABAI has arranged a remembrance event with some remarks by a few close colleagues, as well as the opportunity for other attendees to speak in honor of Jerry’s memory.

Speakers will include:

Melinda Sota (Executive Leadership Group, Inc)

Peter Killeen (Arizona State University)

Linda Hayes (University of Nevada Reno)

Brady Phelps (South Dakota State University)

Dick Malott (Western Michigan University)

Special Event #145
Presidential Scholar Address: Nonviolent Resistance in the Global Struggle to Defend Democracy and Human Rights
Saturday, May 25, 2019
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom A-F
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Mark A. Mattaini (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)
CE Instructor: Mark A. Mattaini, Ph.D.

Presidential Scholar Address: Nonviolent Resistance in the Global Struggle to Defend Democracy and Human Rights


There is growing concern among citizens around the world at the rise in the election of populist governments, increase in authoritarianism, and degradation of democratic rights, institutions, and norms. Meanwhile, the use of nonviolent resistance to defend the rights of minorities and oppressed communities, advance environmental and human rights campaigns, and to preserve democratic freedoms and institutions is being applied with increased frequency. However, as a field, nonviolent resistance continues to be neglected, and as a technique and type of social and political action, the phenomenon is not well understood, including by policymakers, journalists, academics, or citizens or institutions in our societies. This dearth in understanding is dangerous. New research suggests that although the frequency of nonviolent struggle is increasing, its effectiveness is decreasing. This is being attributed to opponent learning and innovation, as well as the fact that as in the past, such struggles often rely on intuition, chance events, improvisation, and people acting without clearly identifying their objectives or understanding what is required to achieve them. As behavior scientists have begun shifting significant attention to social issues, and given their recent growing emphasis on cultural level change, they could become valued partners in shaping more effective strategic action. One important potential area for collaborative work is in researching constructional (Goldiamond), constructive (Gandhi) options for shaping socially and environmentally sustainable communities with the strength and knowledge to resist threats to democracy, and support human rights. In light of the growing exploration of nonviolent resistance to address the various political challenges faced by citizens around the world, a top priority now is to expand the capacity of practitioners of nonviolent action to plan and implement wise strategies that can guide their actions and maximize their effectiveness. By drawing from selected contemporary and historical movements, this presentation will explore the lessons that can be gained from global movements to face current challenges in the fight to advance human rights and defend democratic rights, institutions, and norms.

JAMILA RAQIB (Albert Einstein Institution; Center for International Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Jamila Raqib, an Afghan native, was a nominee for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, and is Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution in Boston, which promotes the study and strategic use of nonviolent action worldwide. From 2002 until his recent passing, Ms. Raqib worked directly with political scientist Gene Sharp, the world’s foremost scholar on strategic nonviolent action. In 2009, she and Sharp jointly developed a curriculum called Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression drawing extensively on that literature, to provide in-depth guidance for groups planning or engaged in nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights. She is also a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, exploring how innovations in technology and education can make the collection, sharing, and application of knowledge of nonviolent action more effective, timely, and secure. In addition, she is currently doing research on nonviolent social change grounded in Gandhi’s “constructive programme,” which is similar on multiple dimensions to constructional work as outlined in Israel Goldiamond’s work. Ms. Raqib’s TED talk on nonviolent resistance has been translated into 29 languages and has more than 1 million views; many of her presentations are also widely shared on YouTube, making her work accessible especially to young people. She is among a handful of people in the world who has studied the extensive literature on nonviolence social change in real depth and has been working directly with the groups who have been applying that knowledge in conflicts around the world. Raqib regularly gives presentations and conducts educational workshops for activists and organizers, human rights organizations, academics, and government bodies concerned with diverse objectives including challenging dictatorship, combatting corruption, and attaining political rights, economic justice, environmental protection, and women’s empowerment. She also serves as commentator on nonviolent action for multiple media outlets and oversees the dissemination of extensive resources on the topic through the Einstein Institution. She therefore has much to contribute to behavior scientists and practitioners interested in expanding their involvement and participation in social change, human rights, and sustainability efforts, particularly from a constructional perspective.
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe two lessons that can be gained from global movements facing current challenges in the struggle to advance human rights, and strengthen and defend democratic institutions; (2) explain the value of nonviolent resistance as a form of social and political action; (3) explain how and why, while the frequency of nonviolent struggle is increasing, its effectiveness is declining in some arenas; (4) describe the value of constructive/constructional strategies for shaping environmentally sustainable and socially just communities.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh