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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #413A
CE Offered: BACB
Behavior Analysis and Social Issues: Do We Have a Role to Play?
Monday, May 29, 2017
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom F/G
Area: CSS; Domain: Translational
Chair: Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Mark A. Mattaini (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)
CE Instructor: Ramona Houmanfar, Ph.D.

Recent trends interrelating the global economy and socially significant practices pertaining to health, education, violence, immigration, and sustainability, highlight the role of behavioral variables as among the key factors influencing socio-cultural change. While behavior analysts have long held an interest in understanding and intervening on these complex socio-cultural phenomena, our ability to do so has progressed slowly, as we have attempted to analyze and assess the phenomena of interest. This symposium will provide a set of scholarly discussions and empirical demonstrations that are designed to aid our design of new models of stewardship and open opportunities for innovation while adjusting to growing social upheaval, and environmental crises.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): community interventions, immigration, sustainability, violence
Examining the ABCs of Community Violence through the Aim4Peace Violence Prevention Program
(Applied Research)
JOMELLA WATSON-THOMPSON (University of Kansas), Daryl E. Stewart (University of Kansas), Courtney Moore (University of Kansas), Marvia Jones (University of Kansas)
Abstract: There is increased attention to the problem of violence in communities as a significant societal concern, which disproportionately affects some racial and ethnic minority groups. In Kansas City, the Aim4Peace Violence Prevention Program was implemented based on the evidence-based Cure Violence model for reducing shootings and killings. Cure Violence has several core components including street outreach to engage high-risk individuals in lifestyle behavior changes and community mobilization to modify normative group behaviors. In 2012, there was targeted implementation of the program in a police sector, which substantially contributed to incidences of violence. An interrupted time series with a comparison group design was used to examine program implementation. The frequency count of victims of firearm-related homicides and aggravated assaults were analyzed for the target and comparison police sectors. Between 2011 and 2012, during the first year of focused program implementation in the target area, there was a reduction in shootings and killings in the target area by 35 incidences (from 150 to 105 incidences). However, there was some variability in baseline levels, which limits interpretation of the findings. The presentation examines strengths, challenges, and opportunities for using a behavioral science approach to examine community-level violence.

The Role of Implicit Attitude Assessment inBehavior Analytic Interventions of Social Issues

(Applied Research)
GREGORY SCOTT SMITH (University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno), Alison Szarko (University of Nevada, Reno), Jovonnie L. Esquierdo-Leal (University of Nevada, Reno), Nicole Jacobs (University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine), Mary Froehlich (University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine), Timothy Baker (University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine), Melissa Piasecki (University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine)

Socially significant issues continue to gain attention on both the national and global stages, with recent trends associated with immigration, xenophobia, women’s rights, women’s pay, women’s general treatment, and sexual orientation/gay rights, among many others, capturing the spotlight, especially in political elections, both domestically and abroad. Other social issues have already been a part of the national conversation for decades, including obesity, poverty, and racism and discrimination, although the latter has reemerged as a critical example of social injustice. An important piece in the progression of our ability to address these issues is the assessment of implicit bias, which is now a common buzz word that can be heard daily on news radio (e.g., NPR) and in recent presidential debates. In addition to assessing and identifying implicit attitudes and bias, understanding some of the factors that contribute to the development of these implicit attitudes is also an important step toward ultimately developing interventions on the social issues of interest. This presentation offers empirical data on the assessment of various implicit attitudes among a large sample of medical students, and discusses ways by which these data may serve to inform eventual assessments and interventions pertaining to other socio-cultural issues.


The Emergence and Decline of a Cultural Movement: A Behavior Science Perspective

(Applied Research)
MARIA E. MALOTT (Association for Behavior Analysis International)

In previous presentations, I have spoken about the actions of five individuals and the contextual variables that resulted in the creation of the Mexican Muralist movement—the largest movement of its type since the Renaissance. This revolutionary movement left an historic and public record of Mexico’s social and political circumstances in the first half of the twentieth century. In this presentation, I explain why the movement emerged in 1921 and declined by the mid-1950s. By drawing upon the behavior scientific perspective and associated units of analysis, I describe the murals and illustrate the contextual variables in the movement’s evolution. Many cultural phenomena present similar characteristics and this analysis might aid in understanding them.


Constraining Our Future Selves: Overcoming the Super Wicked Problem of Climate Change

(Applied Research)

Climate change is seen as an accelerating problem challenging the earths population with human behavior being a driver of change. Prevention of climate change fades as an objective not likely to be achieved before impacts soon affect millions of people. Attention turns to adaptation to new eco-systems as leaders seek policies that help populations respond to climate changes. Climate change is defined as a super wicked problem as (1) time is running out (2) those who cause the problem seek to solve it (3) there is no central global authority to manage solutions and (4) humans discount future consequences. This paper considers the behavioral dimensions of policies that might offer a step-wise, iterative approach to preparing communities for accelerating climate changes and enabling humans to adapt to what lies ahead. Policies that interlock behavior and constrain consumption of energy-demading resources are likely to transition populations from unsustainable lifestyles to more adaptive behavior. It is recommended that these policies originate within leading communities (early adopters), generate data allowing determination of benefit, are codified to permit replication, attract investors, and expand to mid and late stage adopters. This aligns with methodologies used in behavior analysis and offers a route towards globalization of effective behavior change technologies that constrain our path to an unsustainable future.




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