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 #551
An Examination of Corruption as a Behavioral and Cultural Phenomenon
Monday, May 25, 2020
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M4, Liberty M
Area: CSS/OBM; Domain: Theory
Chair: Fabio Bento (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Discussant: Marco Tagliabue (Oslo Metropolitan University)

Corruption is a critical social problem of the 21st century, and it features almost every day in the headlines of the media in most developing countries. However, few behavior analysts study of corruption. This symposium intends to draw the attention of behavior analysts to this critical social problem. We demonstrate how corruption can be analyzed with behavior analytic conceptual tools. The first study highlights how different units of analysis (operant behavior, culturobehavioral lineage, culturant, and macrobehavior) account for different facets of this social phenomenon and presents some examples of how the theme has been experimentally studied in recent years. The second presentation draws on the results from a survey of 518 persons on why intermediaries are used, for example to procure a driving license or a building permit. ‘Goro boys’ in Ghana or “coyotes” or “tramitadores” in Latin America are to intermediate bribe-taking. Intermediaries are used in corruption transactions to eliminate uncertainty and reduce the risk of detection and we examined the use of intermediaries as avoidance behavior. How to combat corruption associated with the use of intermediaries is discussed. The dynamics of operant and cultural sides of corruption explored in this symposium indicates a fertile field for research.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Corruption, ethical self-control, macrocontingency, metacontingency
Units of Analysis for Corruption Experiments: Operant, Culturobehavioral Lineage, Culturant, and Macrobehavior
KAROLINY LOPES DA HORA (Federal University of the Saint Francis Valley (Univasf)), Angelo A. S. Sampaio (Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco (Univasf))
Abstract: To comprehensively understand the processes involved in social issues such as corruption, a behavior science has to rely on rigorous experimentation, interdisciplinary dialogue, and the use of diverse units of analysis. We propose a behavioral analysis of corruption, highlighting how different units of analysis (operant behavior, culturobehavioral lineage, culturant, and macrobehavior) account for different facets of this social phenomenon. Corrupt behavior involves relations in which there is a conflict between consequences for the individual and effects for the group—a concept similar to that of an ethical self-controlled response. This response can occur independently or in coordination with responses by other individuals. Further, verbal control, as well as social reinforcement and punishment, plays an important role in the maintenance and transmission of this behavioral pattern. After presenting examples of how the theme has been experimentally studied in recent years, we conclude by suggesting that experimental studies on ethical self-control may fruitfully contribute to the behavioral analysis of corruption in its multiple dimensions.
Behavioral and Cultural Analysis of the Use of Intermediaries in Corruption Transactions
TETE KOBLA AGBOTA (Oslo Metropolitan Unoversity)
Abstract: Even though use of intermediaries in corruption transactions is, this theme has not been examined by behavior analysts. It is common to find persons who act as intermediaries (known as “goro boys” in Ghana or “coyotes” or “tramitadores” in Latin America) in the vicinity of government offices. They assist individuals in applying for driving license, building permits or roadworthy certificates. A questionnaire was used to explore the experiences of 518 persons on the use of intermediaries when dealing with public officials to acquire different mandatory permits or certificates to operate businesses. Avoiding uncertainty, lowering risk of detection, avoiding wasting time in case processing queues and non-conversant with rules are some reasons given for the use of intermediaries. The phenomenon is examined as avoidance behavior. Further, the briber, the intermediary, and the public officer constitute a closed corrupt behavioral system, where cooperation itself may be the object of selection as well as the aggregate product. This system may institutionalize corruption. Combating this form of corruption should focus more on methods to destabilize corrupt collusions, for instance, introducing online (paperless) application systems that make public officer and client physical interface redundant.



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