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.

  • AUT: Autism

    CBM: Clinical/Family/Behavioral Medicine

    CSS: Community, Social, and Sustainability Issues

    DDA: Developmental Disabilities

    DEV: Behavioral Development

    EAB: Experimental Analysis of Behavior

    EDC: Education

    OBM: Organizational Behavior Management

    PCH: Philosophical, Conceptual, and Historical Issues

    TBA: Teaching Behavior Analysis

    VRB: Verbal Behavior

13th Annual Autism Conference; San Francisco, CA; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #5

Marketing Behavior Analysis: A Few Words About the Importance of Words

Saturday, January 19, 2019
8:10 AM–9:00 AM
Grand Ballroom A-C
Area: AUT; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Thomas Critchfield, Ph.D.
Chair: Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)
THOMAS CRITCHFIELD (Illinois State University)
Tom Critchfield is Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University where he contributes to the Masters specialization in Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences. Graduate training in experimental behavior analysis at West Virginia University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine led to research interests in how fundamental learning processes operate in a variety of everyday phenomena. He has published more than 100 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. Dr. Critchfield is a Fellow, and has served as President of, the Association for Behavior Analysis International and Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. He has held a variety of editorial positions, including his current position as Associate Editor of Perspectives on Behavior Science.

Evidence-based practices help no one unless they are disseminated. Dissemination is, at its core, a process of communicating to recruit buy-in (from consumers, third-party payers, extramural funding agencies, policy makers, and so forth). Curiously, behavior analysts have shown relatively little interest in understanding dissemination as a scholarly topic. Not so curiously, behavior analysts have often complained about their relative lack of acceptance among non-behavior analysts. How we talk about our science and, especially, our practice, is a major facet of dissemination, but it’s a complex facet. To illustrate some of the underlying fundamentals, I’ll discuss a growing body of research showing that the technical terms that behavior analysts use for semantic precision can have visceral (i.e., emotional, nonsemantic) effects that probably interfere with dissemination. Time permitting I’ll mention a few other aspects of how we communicate that probably also are important. Those seeking best practices from my remarks are bound to be disappointed, because at present we know too little to define best practices. But it pays to at least be aware of some of the issues, and my hope is that some listeners will take up the challenge of making the language of dissemination a topic of formal study.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss some of the ways that technically precise communication can fail to inform or inspire; (2) be cautious and strategic about using behavior analysis jargon when communicating to non-behavior analysts; (3) contribute to the development of empirically-guided best practices for substitute language; (4) consider the guidance that may be available from several sources outside of behavior analysis.



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