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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #125
Metacontingencies: Social Networks, Further Developments, Contributions, and Applications
Saturday, May 26, 2018
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Marina Ballroom E
Area: OBM; Domain: Theory
Chair: Ingunn Sandaker (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)
Discussant: Gunnar Ree (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)

Metacontingencies describe a conditional relation between interlocking behavioral contingencies, their aggregate product and a selecting environment. Such phenomena is found when dealing with human behavior at the group/cultural level. In the same direction, conceptual and experimental designs have been employed to study such phenomena from a systemic perspective. Metacontingencies share with others areas of knowledge the assumption that human relations take place in rather complex webs of interactions. In this symposium, we propose further developments of the metacontingency concept, and discuss it relates to systems and social network analysis. Therefore, much can be learned by bridging behavior analysis with central concepts and measures of social network analysis. Networks are here understood as the structure of social systems. However, such self-organizing process of social systems poses challenges to classical organizational performance engineering. Hence, the need to discuss the interventions from a behavioral system analysis approach. In this regard, we employ metacontingency and social network analysis as conceptual tools to examine corruption.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): corrupt behavior, metacontingencies, self-organization, social networks

Including Contingencies and Metacontingencies to a Coevolutionary Approach to Cultural Evolution

KALLIU CARVALHO COUTO (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)

First extensively used by Darwin, the theory of natural selection describes how the interplay between a population’s traits and environmental events drives the evolution of species. These traits vary from sensitivity to physical characteristics of the environment to innate predispositions to acquire specific behavioral topographies. The capability of learning new behavioral repertories during ontogenesis also has great adaptive value. Thus, learning capability is historically inseparable from evolution by natural selection. In humans, besides inheriting behavioral predispositions and the ability to incrementally acquire new behavioral repertoires during ontogenesis, learning is greatly connected to an evolving cultural environment. As natural selection and learning, cultural evolution can also be described from a Darwinian perspective. Cultural practices are selected as a function of their adaptive value to the practicing group, and also serve to enhance members’ adaptive capability. In this presentation, cultural evolution will be analyzed from a selectionist perspective, as a coevolutionary processes involving learning and natural selection. Natural and operant selection will be discussed in the context of cultural evolution; discussed as selection of cultural practices and selection of environmental settings.


Organizational Performance Engineering Versus Self-Organization and Adaptation: Exploring Limits and Synergies Between Two Paradoxical Approaches

JONATHAN KRISPIN (Valdosta State University)

Hyten (2009) distinguished between behavior-focused approaches and results-focused approaches to drive performance improvement in the field of organizational behavior management (OBM), arguing that results-focused, systems-models of organizational functioning provide numerous benefits to OBM interventions beyond behavior-focused approaches. Recent discussions in the behavior analytic literature have suggested that such interventions may be limited in their impact due to self-organizing dynamics present in the extended, cultural environment (Mattaini, 2006). Krispin (2016) outlined a potential, self-organizing process through which cultural-level selection contingencies might develop and impact the contingencies that affect organizational systems and metacontingencies. This paper will outline a set of sufficient conditions for the self-organization of systems and then will consider the implications of these conditions for several different systems models using a behavioral systems analysis approach. Specifically, the supersystems model approach proposed by Rummler and Brache (1995) and the Total Performance System approach proposed by Abernathy (2000) will contrasted with these principles of self-organization with a goal of identifying key practices that can reconcile these perpectives.


Exploring Complexity in Organizations: Bridging Social Networks and Behavior Analysis

FABIO BENTO (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)

Complexity science highlights the importance of communication between different areas of knowledge. Bearing that in mind, the present conceptual article offers a discussion about the contributions of bridging social network analysis and behavior analysis in explaining change in organizations. Social network analysis has provides graphical representations and important quantitative tools to describe structural features of complex webs of interactions. It has played an important role in mapping flow of information and communication processes in organizations. Furthermore, it provides dynamics of network growth. However, recent work has attempted to move from static descriptions to incorporate a time perspective focusing on change and system resilience. In this respect, much can be learned from the evolutionary perspective that permeates behavior analysis. Networks are here understood as the structure of social systems. From a metacontingency perspective, there is an interest in understanding interlocking behavioral contingencies in where interdependent individuals produce an aggregate product. Understanding the structure of patterns of communications and interdependencies may contribute to an understanding of contingencies of reinforcement.


The Role of Middlemen in Administrative Actions: Behavioral and Metacontingencies Analyses of Petty Corruption

TETE KOBLA AGBOTA (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)

The use of intermediaries known as "goro boys" when accessing public goods is common in Ghana. Using a survey method, this paper explores why people use intermediaries during public encounters. The role of intermediaries in perpetuating petty corrupt behavior as a cultural determinant for administrative actions is examined. Using behavioral contingencies and metacontingencies as analytical tools, this paper examines the contingencies that generate and sustain the use intermediaries in administrative actions. We observe that the rearrangement of administrative processes and procedures may eliminate intermediaries during public encounters. We conclude that combating corruption should focus more on methods, which destabilize corrupt cooperation. Transparency is key to destabilizing corrupt relations but a leadership willing to use this key is a paramount anti-corruption element.




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