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 #347
CE Offered: BACB
Seeing Eyes and Helping Hands: Behavioral Conceptualizations of Perspective Taking and Prosocial Behavior
Sunday, May 27, 2018
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Marina Ballroom G
Area: CSS; Domain: Theory
Chair: Rebecca Noel Tacke (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Karen Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi)
CE Instructor: Karen Kate Kellum, Ph.D.

Amongst humans most exceptional behaviors are those that involve helping another at great cost to ones self, or understanding anothers perspective as if it were ones own. Despite the importance of altruistic behavior and perspective taking to human functioning, however, these behaviors have rarely been investigated from a behavioral perspective. As a result, the dominant literatures in these areas are limited with respect to conceptualizations that lend themselves to behavioral analysis and with respect to data on the conditions under which perspective taking and altruism are probable. The papers in this symposium will review the literatures on perspective taking and altruism in hopes of creating a foundation to promote future research. The first paper will focus on behavioral approaches to conceptualizing and assessing perspective taking. The second paper will focus behavioral approaches to assessing and intervening on altruism. The discussion will focus on implications of and next steps in these and related efforts.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and behavior therapists with an interest in altruism, perspective taking, and diectic relational responding.

Learning Objectives: Learning objectives: 1) Describe a behavioral conceptualization of perspective taking. 2) Describe a behavioral conceptualization of altruism. 3) Describe behavioral approaches to assessing and training perspective taking or altruism.
How May We Assist?: Exploring Altruism in Applied Behavior Analysis
CALEB FOGLE (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: To the general public, altruism is conceptualized as behavior that is wholly “selfless,” motivated only by the desire to help another. Scientists and philosophers have not found defining or studying altruism so simple. Definitions tend to vary in the degree to which certain functional criteria must be met for the behavior to be characterized as “true altruism.” Such criteria are typically dependent on whether or not the behavior functions to benefit the helping individual. In fact, some conceptualizations would propose “true altruism” as occurring without any reinforcing consequences. These conceptual issues have resulted in difficulties assessing altruistic behavior, limiting scientific progress. This presentation will first provide a broad overview of dominant views of altruism. Next, it will offer behavioral conceptualizations of altruism along with a review of strengths and weaknesses of behavioral methodologies for assessing altruism in and outside of the lab. Implications for research and practice will be discussed.

Non-Mentalist Theory of Mind: Conceptual and Empirical Advances in Perspective Taking From a Behavioral Perspective

REBECCA COPELL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Theory of Mind (TOM) has been defined in non-behavioral traditions as, "the ability to impute mental events to oneself and to others." Developmentally, this is typically described as perspective taking (PT), and is thought to involve a gradual change in a child's innate ability to understand their internal events (i.e. thoughts, beliefs, and desires) as different from another person's internal events. As behaviorists, we are concerned with these private events about private events not as innate abilities or causes of overt behaviors. Instead, we are concerned with perspective taking as socially significant in its own right, as part of a class of responses that characterize effective relating to others. This presentation will first provide a brief description of PT and TOM from dominant non-behavioral perspectives. Next, it will provide an overview of conceptual and empirical advances in PT from a behavioral perspective, ending with recent work in deictic relational responding. Implications for assessment and training of perspective taking in research and practice settings will be discussed.




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