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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.

ABA Goes to Russia!

In October 1999, the ABA Executive Council approved in principle the concept of ABA-sponsored international delegations. The purpose of international delegations is to develop or enhance the growth and vitality of behavior analysis worldwide. A delegation consists of a small group of experienced behavior analysts who volunteer to share their expertise and explore suitable ways for the long-term development of behavior analysis in a specific country, based on the needs and resources available in that country. International delegations work with behavior analysts of the target country to find funding to maintain long-term exchange.

 

Dr. Maria Malott and Lori Miller, a doctoral student at Western Michigan University who has worked as ABA staff for the last several years, organized the first international delegation. The planning and organization of the delegation took approximately 500 hours, including research on the state of psychology in Russia, logistical arrangements, a trip to Washington, D.C. to contact organizations that might support scholarly exchange between Russia and the US, contacts with dozens of organizations, dozens of calls to Russian colleagues, and extensive correspondence.

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Figure 1. Dr. Linda Hayes, Dr. Sigrid Glenn,
Dr. Joe Morrow and Dr. Maria Malott in the
Memorial Museum Apartment where Ivan P.
Pavlov lived from 1918 until his death in 1936.

The first delegation traveled September 2 - 12, 2000 to Russia. The ABA delegates were Dr. Sigrid Glenn, Dr. Linda Hayes, Dr. Maria Malott, and Dr. Joe Morrow. ABA offered in-kind support for planning, and the four ABA delegates donated their time and travel expenses. The objectives of the delegation were to establish a partnership with the Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University for the long-term development of behavior analysis and to become familiar with the activities and personnel of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology. The ABA delegates interacted with the Director of the American Councils for International Education, met with professionals of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, and spent four days participating in various activities with Psychology Department leaders, faculty, and students of St. Petersburg State University. Three delegates also visited Moscow.

 

 

 

American Councils for International Education

The delegation would not have been possible without the in-kind support of key members of the American Councils, including Dr. Dan Davidson, President, Carl Herrin, Director of Government Relations, and Dr. Joel Ericson, Director of the St. Petersburg office. They provided a warm welcome, contacts, support for processing visas, and facilitation of some logistical arrangements, which turned to be invaluable.

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Figure 2. Dr. Joel Ericson, Director of the
St. Petersburg Office of the American Councils.


An American Councils alumnus from Armenia welcomed the ABA delegates to St. Petersburg. In subsequent interactions, Dr. Ericson shared the work and commitment of the American Councils to further educational reform of ex-soviet republics. The American Councils is a not-for-profit education, training, and consulting organization with 270 full-time staff specializing in the countries of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia. Since 1974, the American Councils has worked to further educational reform through academic exchange, professional training, institution building, research materials development, technical assistance and consulting. It is a leader among U.S. organizations in the administration of U.S. and NIS government-funded exchanges. Currently, it manages over forty educational programs through a network of forty-six offices in former soviet republics, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

 

Pavlov Research Institute

ABA delegates learned about the history and current activities of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1904, Ivan P. Pavlov received the first Nobel Prize in Theoretical Medicine for his work on the digestive activity of dogs. He founded the Department of Conditional Reflexes of the Institute of Physiology in 1925, and directed it until 1936. This Department was later named the Laboratory of Physiology of the Higher Nervous Activity, and, after Pavlov's death, the Physiological Institute was named after him.

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Figure 3. Pavlov Institute of Physiology,
St. Petersburg.

 

Initially the main objective of the Institute was to study physiology of brain hemispheres by the method of conditioned reflexes. Today, the Institute's long-term goal is to study regularities of interaction of human physiological systems in processes of adaptation to the environment. The Institute has 40 laboratories with about 300 researchers, including more than 200 Doctors and Candidates of Science. Part of the Institute is located in St. Petersburg, but the major research campus, also founded by Pavlov, is located in the nearby town of Koltushi.

 

ABA delegates had the opportunity to meet Professor Nikolai Suvorov, who showed the lab in which leg flexion of dogs was studied. While most behavior analysts would see the experiments conducted here as a form of operant avoidance or escape, the Russians interpreted them in respondent terms.

 

Professor Suvorov was the head of the Laboratory of Physiology of the Higher Nervous Activity of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology from 1965 to 1987. He was Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation. In 1982, he was awarded the Pavlov Prize of the Russian Academy of Science for his book Striatal System and Behavior. Most recently, Professor Suvorov has been studying voluntary movements in Parkinson patients. He has also recently published a review paper about the experimental and clinical data of physiology and pathology obtained at the Laboratory of the Higher Nervous System during its 75 years of existence.

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Figure 4. Professor Nikolai Suvorov

Pavlov Institute of Physiology.

 

The apartment where Ivan Pavlov lived from 1918 until his death in 1936 is located a few miles from the Institute. In 1949, the apartment became a memorial museum and now can be visited by appointment through the Pavlov Institute of Physiology. ABA delegates had the opportunity to visit Pavlov's apartment with historian Emma Cosmatchevskaya, who is studying the life and research of Pavlov. The apartment houses Pavlov's personal library, which has an extensive collection of philosophical and cultural literature, and his impressive collection of Russian realistic paintings. With the creation of the museum, an exhibition was added with material from when Pavlov studied in St. Petersburg University and the Medical-Surgical Academy. In this exhibit, the book IV Pawlow und Die Folgen is displayed, which contains photographs of Watson and Skinner.

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Figure 5. Photographs of Skinner and Watson
from
IV Pawlow und Die Folgen at the
Memorial Apartment of Ivan P. Pavlov.

 

 

St. Petersburg State University

The main organizers of the ABA delegation from St. Petersburg State University were Dr. Alla V. Shaboltas, Associate Professor, Dept of Psychology and Dr. Larissa Alexandrovna Tsvetkova, Deputy Dean to the Dean of Faculty of Psychology. Dr. Shaboltas also assisted as interpreter in conjunction with Dr. Juliana Granskaya, faculty of the Division of Behavior and Abnormal Behavior.

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Figure 6. Dr. Alla V. Shaboltas, Associate
Professor, Dept of Psychology, Dr. Larissa
Alexandrovna Tsvetkova, Deputy Dean to
the Dean of Faculty of Psychology and
Dr. Juliana Granskaya, faculty of the
Division of Behavior and Prevention of
Abnormal Behavior.

 

St. Petersburg State University is the oldest university in Russia. Founded in 1724, it has been an academic center since tsarist days and has produced some of the country's leading scholars, engineers, scientists and professionals. It is the second largest university in Russia, after the State University of Moscow. Today it has about 24,000 students (approximately 16,000 attending day programs and 8,000 attending evening programs). It has over 20 departments including Psychology, Mathematics, Languages, Philosophy and Geology.

 

Psychology Department

The Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University was founded in 1966. The Department has more that 150 full-time faculty and 1,253 students. Almost all of the students attend on full scholarships. About 600 students attend day programs, 400 attend evening programs, and the remaining attend distance education programs. The Department offers the bachelors and masters degrees, both of which are transitioning to the degree of Specialist in Psychology-a combination of the BA and masters degree in the United States. The Department also offers PhD degrees (candidates in science) and Doctor in Science. It has 12 Divisions:

  • General Psychology, with two sections: General and Experimental; Psychology and Age-Differential Psychology
  • Pedagogic and Pedagogical Psychology
  • Ergonomics and Engineering Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology and Psychophysiology
  • Psychology of Personality Development and Professional Development, Developmental Psychology
  • Psychology of Management
  • Social Work
  • Political Psychology
  • Behavior and Prevention of Abnormal Behavior
  • Special Psychology
  • Psychological Ensuring of Professional Work and Sports


  

Delegation Activities

The activities of ABA delegates at the university included exchanges with the leadership, faculty and students of several relevant divisions, a joint seminar given to the faculty by Russian colleagues and ABA delegates, a site visit to an autism clinic headed by Dr. Ivanov, a faculty member of the university, and facilitation of a proposal for the formation of the Russian Chapter of ABA.

 

Professional Exchange

Delegates spent considerable time learning about the Department and several of its divisions. Several exchanges took place with the Dean of the Psychology Department, Dr. A. Krylov, and the Chiefs of two critical divisions for the development of behavior analysis: Dr. B. Lyskov, Chief of the Division of Behavior and Prevention of Abnormal Behavior, and Dr. Alexander I. Yuriev, Chief of the Division of Political Psychology.

 

In addition, ABA delegates interacted with Dr. V. Chesnokov and Dr. L.Tcvetkova, Deputy Directors of the Psychology Department, and Chiefs of other key divisions, including Dr. A. Manichev, Chief of the Division of Ergonomics and Engineering Psychology (Industrial Psychology); Dr. Anatoly Sventsitskiy, Chief of the Division of Social Psychology; Dr. L. Schipitcina, Chief of the Division of Special Psychology (autism and developmental disabilities); Dr. Eugeny S. Ivanov, Director of Physiological Bases of Special Psychology; and Dr. Vladimir Borisovich Chesnokov, Vice Dean for Scientific Work.

 

ABA delegates met the faculty of the eight divisions mentioned above and with about 150 first-year students and 40 second-year students in psychology. Leaders, faculty and students showed great interest in the development of behavior analysis at St. Petersburg State University.

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Figure 7. First year students of the Department
of Psychology of St. Petersburg University.

 

Seminar

Russian faculty and the ABA delegates conducted a joint seminar on behavior analysis. Dr. Maria Asorina, Division of General Psychology, talked about the analysis of play activity in children and how it relates to neurotic behavior of adults. Dr. Elena Sidorenco, Division of Social Psychology, described the use of behavioral technology in universities and industry in Russia, including techniques such as token economies. Dr. Revegat Muchamedrachimov, Division of Social Work, explained the development of a system of foster care and adoption in Russia. From ABA, Dr. Sigrid Glenn talked about cultural analysis, Dr. Linda Hayes described basic concepts in behavior analysis, Dr. Maria Malott talked about organizational behavior management, and Dr. Joseph Morrow focused on the treatment of autism.

 

Site Visit to the Autism Clinic

Two members of the delegation visited an autism clinic run by the Division of Special Education of the Psychology Department since 1990. The clinic offers comprehensive treatment for children with autism, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, music therapy and others and appeared to have highly qualified and motivated teachers. The clinic hires 175 professionals in the treatment of autism and has about 175 clients. It serves as a setting for professional training as well as service to the community.

 

Proposal for a Russian Chapter for Behavior Analysis

Dr. Alexi Shoustov, of the Division of Political Psychology, is a dedicated behavior analyst committed to working actively toward the formation of the Russian Chapter of the Association for Behavior Analysis. In recent years, he and several members of his division have begun to study behavior analysis and incorporate their learning in their graduate work. Professor Shoustov, who also manages a private organization called the Association of Psychology for Consulting, will serve as a liaison between ABA and the proposed Russian chapter during the development of its formation and evolution.

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Figure 8. Dr. B. Lyskov, Chief of the
Division of Behavior and Prevention of
Abnormal Behavior, and Dr. Alexi
Shoustov, professor of the Division
of Political Psychology.

An agreement for the long-term development of behavior analysis in the Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University was drafted by ABA delegates and Dr. Alexi Shoustov, Dr. A. Krylov, Dr. B. Lyskov, Dr. Larissa Alexandrovna Tsvetkova, Dr. Juliana Granskaya and Dr. Alexander Milanitch. The agreement specified the following points:

 
The Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University and the Association for Behavior Analysis agree to commit to the long-term development of the science of behavior analysis in Russia. They also agree to jointly pursue funding from national and international sources to sponsor long-term initiatives for the establishment of behavior analysis in Russia.

In addition, the Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University committed to the following:
  • To facilitate the development of a Russian Chapter of the Association for Behavior Analysis that maintains the quality of the science.
  • To provide in-kind support for faculty experts on behavior analysis to work in the Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University. In-kind support includes office and teaching space, access to phone, fax, and administrative support.
  • If funding is available, to send one faculty member who is a member of the Russian chapter of the Association for Behavior Analysis to the upcoming annual convention in May 2001 in New Orleans, USA to meet with the Executive Council and directors of affiliated chapters of ABA.
  • To arrange for the teaching of a course of behavior analysis in the Psychology Department. Members of ABA will advise on content.
  • To obtain and distribute behavior analysis literature through the library of the University and Russian chapter.

 

The Association for Behavior Analysis in conjunction with the University of North Texas, Applied Behavior Consultants, Inc., and the Behavioral Program of the University of Nevada Reno agreed to the following:

  • To offer six scholarships (three in the summer of 2001 and three in the summer of 2002) to six faculty/students interested in behavior analysis to take a behavior analysis course via the internet through the University of North Texas. The total in-kind contribution is made by the University of North Texas and it is about $6,000. The courses may provide elective academic credits at the St. Petersburg State University for students and a certificate of completion.
  • Applied Behavior Consultants, Inc. (ABC) agreed to donate $500 a year for two years to support memberships of members of the Russian chapter for behavior analysis. The total in-kind support offered by ABC is $1,000.
  • The behavior analysis program of the University of Nevada at Reno agreed to sponsor and fund a Russian faculty professor for one year in the graduate program of behavior analysis. Total support is about $15,000.
  • The Association for Behavior Analysis will provide network support for the Russian chapter of ABA.

 

The agreement was written in both English and Russian and signed by Dr. Albert A. Krylov, Dean of the Department of Psychology and Dr. Maria E. Malott, Executive Director/Secretary Treasurer of ABA, with the understanding that the agreement could be modified in the future as needed. The proposal for the Russian chapter of ABA will include the cooperation of the Association of Psychology for Consulting, the Division of Behavior and Prevention of Abnormal Behavior and the Dean of the Psychology Department who collaborated in drafting the agreement. In the months ahead, these organizations will draft the request and the application for review of the ABA Executive Council.

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Figure 9. Dr. A. Krylov, Dean of the
Psychology Department and Dr. Maria
E. Malott, ABA's Executive Director,
celebrating after signing the agreement
for long-term development of behavior
analysis at St. Petersburg State University.

 

Future Development

The orientation of the Psychology Department of St. Petersburg State University has been eclectic for nearly eight decades, since the beginning of the Russian revolution. There is limited knowledge of Skinner's writings and almost no development of applied behavior analysis.

 

During Soviet times, psychology as a field was restricted. Certain forms were even suppressed, including social psychology and behaviorism. Only those forms of psychology that were believed to be consistent with the Pavlovian outlook were allowed to develop. This might account for the fact that Russian psychologists do not appear to have a high regard for Pavlov today.

 

The ABA delegation could not have been better timed to support the development of behavior analysis in Russia. Psychology as a discipline is being questioned and there is a systematic effort to define the philosophical position toward psychology with an inclination to move toward a comprehensive approach. Leadership, students and faculty in psychology appear to welcome the new ideas and approaches that were suppressed during the Soviet era. This openness is not only occurring in psychology, but is part of a larger cultural process. Russia is changing at a very accelerated rate toward political democratization and free market economies.

 

A few faculty members, especially from the Political Psychology Division, have studied behavior analysis and are making an impressive effort to apply it. They are committed to the understanding and development of behavior analysis as a science. With the support of the Dean of the Department of Psychology and faculty from the Division of Behavior and Prevention of Abnormal Behavior, there is a good chance that a Russian chapter of ABA could indeed facilitate long-term development of the discipline. The initial agreement signed with the University of St. Petersburg Psychology Department includes opportunities for teaching and developing Russian behavior analysis and the continuation of scholarly exchange.

 

How You Can Help

The behavioral literature in Russia is very limited. Russian colleagues would very much appreciate receiving written material to incorporate in their research and teaching. Please send two copies of your books and articles in behavior analysis to the ABAI office:

 

Association for Behavior Analysis
Attn: Russian Chapter
550 West Centre Avenue, Suite 1
Portage, MI 49024

 

The ABA office will mail the books directly to the library of St. Petersburg University and the library at the office of the proposed Russian chapter of ABA.

 

Dr. Maria Malott, Executive Director/Secretary Treasurer
Dr. Joseph Morrow, ABC, Inc.
Dr. Sigrid Glenn, University of North Texas
Dr. Linda Hayes, University of Nevada, Reno
Modifed by Eddie Soh
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