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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Paper Session #524
Historical Topics in Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 25, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Level M1, Georgetown
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Jay Moore (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
An Important Chapter in the Story of Behaviorism
Domain: Theory
JAY MOORE (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Abstract: Classical S => R behaviorism developed in the first quarter of the 20th century. However, by early in the second quarter of the 20th century, classical behaviorism was judged to be inadequate. Two particular problems were how to convincingly explain the flexibility of behavior and the organization of behavior across time. As the second quarter progressed, traditional researchers and theorists then postulated a different form of behaviorism to replace classical behaviorism. This different form was designated a neobehaviorism. According to neobehaviorism, organismic variables intervened between stimulus and response. These intervening, organismic variables were typically assumed to be mental in character, and to provide the basis for such matters as the flexibility and organization of behavior. Skinner’s radical behaviorism challenges the traditional approach to theories and explanations described above by arguing that it is merely a form of methodological behaviorism. At the heart of the radical behaviorist challenge is an operant, behavioral approach to behavior, including scientific verbal behavior, rather than a mentalistic approach that appeals to symbolic and referential processes.

A Conceptual Shift in the Beginning of B. F. Skinner's Theory of Operant Behavior

Domain: Theory
KRISTJAN GUDMUNDSSON (Reykjavik University)

In this theoretical and historical paper I delineate the absolute beginnings of each of Skinner's theoretical terms, beginning with tropism, reflex, stimulus and response. I give the actual first appearance of each term, relate them to antecedents (Loeb, Pavlov and Sherrington) and continue until Skinner (somewhere around 1933) adds a new and different term: the operant, that somehow totally changes his theory from a S-R theory to an operant one. This was a radical conceptual shift, even though Skinner himself was left in some conceptual confusion for some time - even after 1938, when he published The Behavior of Organisms.




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