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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #606
Shaping a Behavior Analyst: How Dance, Video Games, and Religion Can Create a Behavior Analytic World View
Monday, May 25, 2020
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M1, Georgetown
Area: PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: Jessica Smith (Rutgers; Bedrock)

Practitioners learning history prior to behavior analysis can create a behavior analytic worldview or be a barrier to understanding the underlying assumptions of behavior analysis. These talks will highlight three behavioral histories of practitioners. The first speaker will discuss the similarities between dance instruction and behavior analysis, with an emphasis on shaping. This technique is used across practices, and a learning history in applying this technique aids in therapist’s instructional behavior. The second speaker will also focus on practicing the skill of analyzing your own instructional history to better understand and apply concepts. An example will be given through computer science and design principles. The second speaker will also highlight how their instructional history allowed them to understand the underlying concepts of behavior analysis. Finally, a comparison of religion and behavior analysis will be examined. The third speaker will focus on underlying assumptions that are similar across behavior analysis and religion and how those similarities may aid in shaping out behavior analytic worldview.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Dance, Determinism, Shaping

Successive Approximations to Applying Behavior Analysis

MELISSA ENGASSER (The Bedrock Clinic & Research Center, Inc.)

Each practitioner has an instructional history prior to discovering behavior analysis; this history shapes their learning trajectory and how they implement the science. The learning history can be a barrier to implementing the science, as seen when teaching novel instructors to ignore attention seeking target behavior for decrease. However, many behavior analysts have a compatible learning history, one that eases the implementation of the science. This talk will highlight the transition from dance coaching to behavior analyst, and the techniques utilized by dance coaches will be discussed and compared to those of behavior analysts. One such technique, shaping, is critical in the acquisition of novel movements and used by both dance instructors and behavior analysts. A history of learning through and applying shaping with dancers lends itself well to shaping with clients when teaching functional life skills or verbal behavior, and often we see professionals in other fields using technologies that are similar to our own. The established learning history with these technologies make us better behavior analysts.

Examining your behavioral history with your newfound behavior analytic worldview: computer science, video games, and more
Abstract: Exploring your own history after developing the skillset to analyze events with a behavior analytic worldview can be a fun and informative way to practice utilizing that skill. Since you’re analyzing your own unique history that you lived and breathed, it can also help bring clarity and understanding to concepts and principles that may still seem academic and inaccessible. This is a skill that, through practice, shapes our behavior analytic worldview. This talk will focus on the importance of this analysis and how it can be done in a supervision setting as well as provide examples from the speaker’s life involving computer science and design principles, video games and how they relate to token economies and schedules of reinforcement, and more. This talk will highlight how relating the concepts and principles from our daily life aids in our verbal behavior of the science and daily interactions and decision making with out clients.

Determinism is Everywhere, From Rats to Enlightenment

ABBY LEWIS (Bx+), Tom Buqo (Hofstra University)

The theory and philosophy of behavior analysis is often complicated and left out of masters level course work. Masters level behavior analysts may learn to predict and influence human behavior without fully understanding the underlying theory of human behavior. The basic assumptions of human behavior are sometimes viewed as pragmatic tenants to help practitioners talk about human behavior, but they may not believe it themselves. This is especially true for assumptions that directly contradict religious or personal beliefs. However, some religious beliefs, practices, and personal values directly support behavior analysis. These beliefs will be compared and contrasted to assumptions that behavior analysts hold about human behavior and points of agreement will be highlighted. Particular attention will be applied to subsets of Christianity and Buddhism and how individual beliefs support or contradict the lawfulness of human behavior. Audience members will be encouraged to examine their own behavior analytic world view and the contributing events in their lives that have shaped them.




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Modifed by Eddie Soh