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.


Seventh International Conference; Merida, Mexico; 2013

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #9
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Watson, Skinner and the Science of Psychology

Monday, October 7, 2013
9:30 AM–10:20 AM
Yucatan II (Fiesta Americana)
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Advanced
CE Instructor: Kurt Salzinger, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Hübner (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
KURT SALZINGER (Hofstra University)
Kurt Salzinger, Ph.D., has been Senior Scholar in Residence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., since January 2003. He was executive director for science at the American Psychological Association from 2001-2003. He has been president of the New York Academy of Sciences, has served on the board of directors of the APA, and been president of Divisions 1 (General Psychology) and 25 (Behavior Analysis), and of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology. He also served as the first chair of the board of the Cambridge Center 1986-1988, subsequently as a member until 1991 and again a member of the board 2004-2007. He is author or editor of 12 books and more than 120 articles and book chapters. The most recent book he edited was with M. R. Serper in 2009, Behavioral Mechanisms and Psychopathology, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. He has varied research interests, including behavior analysis applied to human beings, dogs, rats, and goldfish, schizophrenia, verbal behavior of children and adults, and history of psychology. He has both given grants (when a program officer at the National Science Foundation) and received them for his own research (when professor of psychology at Hofstra University and Polytechnic University of New York and principal research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute). He received the Sustained Superior Performance Award from the NSF, the Stratton Award from the American Psychopathological Association, the APA Presidential Award and the Most Meritorious Article Award from the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. In 2002, he was the presidential scholar for the Association for Behavior Analysis. From 2009-2010, he was elected president of the Eastern Psychological Association. He served as president of the Association for Behavior Analysis International in 2012.

We do not risk damnation when we espouse behavior analysis, as Copernicus did when he removed humanity from the center of the world. Yet, many still characterize behavior analysis as too simple, too dangerous and quite unacceptable. They reacted that way when Watson first espoused a behavioral approach 100 years ago, and they were not kinder to Skinner when he proposed a more all-encompassing approach to psychology while keeping true to the behavioral way. This paper will make an attempt to explain why behaviorism continues to elicit emotional responses from scientists and the public at large rather than the studied reaction that science is expected to elicit.

Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, graduate students and anyone interested in behaviorism.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to: --Describe how behaviorism differs from other approaches. --Describe why those differences lead to rejection of behaviorism by some scientists. --Explain why those differences lead to rejection of behaviorism by some lay people.



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