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.

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45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

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Symposium #119
Behavior Analysis and the Topics of Personality and Self
Saturday, May 25, 2019
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Swissôtel, Lucerne Ballroom Level, Lucerne 1/2
Area: PCH/TBA; Domain: Theory
Chair: Brady J. Phelps (South Dakota State University)
Discussant: Charles A. Lyons (Eastern Oregon University)
Abstract:

There is some confusion in non-human animal behavior research concerning the term “personality.” This is because the term “personality” is used in two independent research domains: ethology uses a phenomenological approach to study the structure of individual differences (what they call personality) in direct comparison with human personality research, and behavioral ecology uses animal personality to predict the conditions surrounding selection of among-individual variation in “repeatable” behavior. The ultimate goal of personality research should be to account for all variables that afford individual differences in order to predict behavioral outcomes. Arguments will be made argue for the importance of including personality concepts in a thoroughgoing science of behavior. On the topic of self, Skinner authored chapters on the subject of self in Science and Human Behavior (Skinner, 1953), About Behaviorism (Skinner, 1974) and in one of his last works Recent Issues in the Analysis of Behavior (Skinner, 1989). Skinner attempted to address arguments that behavior analysis has neglected the study the topic of self; “It is often said that a science of behavior studies the human organism but neglects the person or self” (Skinner, 1974, p. 184). Other writers (Keller and Schoenfeld, 1950) also discussed this topic in some depth.

Instruction Level: Advanced
 

Why Should Behavior Analysts Care About Personality Research?

CHRISTINA NORD (University of Lethbridge)
Abstract:

There is some confusion in non-human animal behavior research concerning the term “personality.” This is because the term “personality” is used in two independent research domains: ethology uses a phenomenological approach to study the structure of individual differences (what they call personality) in direct comparison with human personality research, and behavioral ecology uses animal personality to predict the conditions surrounding selection of among-individual variation in “repeatable” behavior. The ultimate goal of personality research should be to account for all variables that afford individual differences in order to predict behavioral outcomes. Work by Dingemanse and colleagues (e.g., Dingemanse et al. 2010, Dingemanse 2017) has sought to systematize personality research through their Behavioral Reaction Norm (BRN) approach, which provides operational definitions and clear analyses in an attempt to incorporate these disjointed fields. Here I focus on the history of personality research, its use in the human and non-human animal literature, and argue for the importance of including personality concepts in a thoroughgoing science of behavior.

 
Behavior Analysis and the Self
BRADY J. PHELPS (South Dakota State University)
Abstract: Skinner repeatedly addressed the concept of self, authoring chapters on the subject of self in Science and Human Behavior (Skinner, 1953), About Behaviorism (Skinner, 1974) and in one of his last works Recent Issues in the Analysis of Behavior (Skinner, 1989). Skinner attempted to address arguments that behavior analysis has neglected the study the topic of self; “It is often said that a science of behavior studies the human organism but neglects the person or self” (Skinner, 1974, p. 184). Other behavior writers (Keller and Schoenfeld, 1950) proposed that the self consisted of relations amongst different behaviors of an individual and observations of one’s behaviors. These writers described the self as "a word that is meant to designate the ability to speak of (be `aware' of) one's own behavior, or the ability to use one's own behavior as the SD for further behavior, verbal or otherwise" (p. 369). This paper summarizes some of the major assumptions of traditional views of self, and then summarizes the positions of Skinner and others. The self is behavior in need of explanation, in contrast to the belief that the self functions to explain as well as cause behavior.
 

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