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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #77
CE Offered: BACB
Walden Two and Beyond: Expanding the Scope of Applied Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 29, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
St. Gallen, Swissotel
Area: TPC/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Neal Miller (University of Memphis)
Discussant: Amanda N. Kelly (BEHAVIORBABE (Hawaii))
CE Instructor: Neal Miller, Ph.D.
Abstract: These papers will examine issues related to the growth of applied behavior analysis. As the field attempts to move beyond traditional areas of practice to address large-scale social problems, it raises both opportunities and challenges. The first paper will examine the relevance of Walden Two (Skinner, 1948) to the applied field, examining both similarities and differences in their scope and methods. It will suggest specific lessons that we might learn from re-examining the proposals within this utopian novel. The second paper will examine ways that behavior analysts might expand their impact by engaging social issues that have not been traditionally addressed by practitioners. Finally, our discussant will provide her own perspectives on these topics.
Keyword(s): ABA, practice, Skinner, Walden Two
Applied Behavior Analysis and Walden Two: Revisiting Skinner’s Utopia
NEAL MILLER (University of Memphis), Mallory Garrett (The University of Memphis)
Abstract: In Walden Two (1948) B. F. Skinner described a utopian community in which the science of behavior analysis had been harnessed to improve peoples’ lives. Though this was a bold and ambitious work, at the time it was a purely speculative account. However, the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is closely aligned to the purpose of this novel, and has contributed a significant body of research over the past 50 years. A comparison between the areas of application outlined in Walden Two and those currently being addressed by the field of ABA reveals both similarities and differences. We will examine a wide range of topics (from education and child-rearing to religion and government), and identify some that were addressed in depth in Walden Two, but have been largely neglected by our applied field. Finally, recommendations will be made for how the lessons of Walden Two might assist behavior analysts in meeting the challenges we face in our society.
Applied Behavior Analysis Beyond Autism: Finding Solutions to Important Societal Problems
MOLLY BENSON (Hawaii Association for Behavior Analysis)
Abstract: B. F. Skinner’s vision of how behavior analysis could be applied to tackle issues of major social significance represents the foundation of our profession. However, as a professional discipline, the practice of behavior analysis tends to be fairly restricted in terms of its scope and the type of populations it serves. One of the challenges facing behavior analysts is to apply the principles of our science to impact society’s problems. Given that there are so many areas of social significance that need to be addressed (e.g., economic disparity, social injustice, the threat of nuclear war, public health, and climate change), it would seem that the field of applied behavior analysis has significant potential for growth and change. In this presentation, we will examine some of the challenges that exists for behavior analysts in working on these societal problems, explore potential opportunities for growth in our field, and assess what kind of interventions may be required to impact change on a larger scale.



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