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 #68
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Where There's the Most Light: Motivation and Behavior Analysis

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Yucatan II (Fiesta Americana)
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: M. Jackson Marr, Ph.D.
Chair: Maria Antonia Padilla Vargas (University of Guadalajara)
M. JACKSON MARR (Georgia Tech)
M. Jackson (Jack) Marr received a BS degree in 1961 from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he studied mathematics, physics, and psychology. He received a Ph.D. in experimental psychology with a minor in physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1966. He is professor emeritus of psychology at Georgia Tech, where he has taught courses in physiology and behavior; behavioral pharmacology; and probability and statistics; and continues to teach the experimental analysis of behavior. He is one of five founding Fellows of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, a Fellow of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) of the American Psychological Association, a Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences Foundation honoree, past president of the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, past president of both the Association for Behavior Analysis and Division 25 of APA. He is the past editor of Behavior and Philosophy, and continues to serve as review editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, a position he has held since 1998. He also serves as the co-editor of Revista Mexicana de An�lisis de la Conducta. He was an associate editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Behavior Analyst. He was experimental representative to the Executive Council of the Association for Behavior Analysis, served on the board of directors of the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior (SQAB), and currently serves on the board of trustees the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He has been particularly active in the international support and development of behavior analysis in Europe, Mexico, China, and the Middle East. He was a Research Fellow in Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, a visiting professor at the Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, and the first Eminent Scholar invited to Jacksonville State University. He was a Navy contractor for Project Sanguine, and an AIEE Senior Fellow at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory. For many years, he has been involved through National Science Foundation grants and other support in the assessment and improvement of engineering education, including engineering physics, using methods derived from the applied behavior analysis of skill acquisition and the cognitive science of problem solving. Other current research interests include dynamical systems theory, the quantitative analysis of behavior, comparative behavior analysis, and theoretical/conceptual issues in behavioral analysis.

Behavior analysis is in the dark regarding quite fundamental concepts. For example, "motivation" is a topic many behavior analysts, basic and applied, have mixed feelings about despite what all the literature says on "motivational operations". Dr. Marr will argue that behavior analysts, particularly in their treatment of reinforcement, are guilty of limited vision and in many ways are still tied to traditional motivational concepts-where apparently the light is better. He will provide a definition of motivation (and what it is not) and discuss some of the commonly studied variables said to control probabilities of action. Most behavior is controlled by consequences having little, if any, relation to motivational variables. Dr. Marr will discuss continued naive perspectives on "conditioned reinforcement" and the positive versus negative reinforcement controversy as well as the role of the history of contingencies in establishing the actions of consequences. Dr. Marr believes our field needs to search beyond its current horizons to achieve more enlightenment.

Target Audience:

Anyone interested in the fundamental concepts of behavior analysis.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to: -- Provide a definition of “motivation,” including what it is NOT.
-- Tie so-called “motivational” operations and their effects to contingencies and their histories.
-- Emphasize that much (if not most) of human behavior has little to do with motivational issues as typically treated by behavior analysts.  



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