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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #302
CE Offered: BACB
Interbehaviorism: Then and Now, All the Way, and In the Room
Sunday, May 30, 2021
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Area: CBM/PCH; Domain: Translational
Chair: MaKensey Sanders (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
CE Instructor: Mitch Fryling, Ph.D.
Abstract: The present symposium consists of three papers, each of which draw attention to the relationship between interbehavioral thinking and clinical practice. The first presentation provides a historical overview of interbehaviorism and attempts to contextualize present day discussions and interest in the interbehavioral perspective. The second presentation considers research in behavior science, and points to the conditions in which research most commonly occurs. This is contrasted with the complex conditions in which clinicians work more closely and for more prolonged periods of time with the subject-matter. As such, clinicians may find themselves aware of the limitations of traditional research and interested in the interbehavioral field perspective more readily than researchers. Finally, the third presentation considers the use of middle-level terms in clinical behavior analysis, and proposes that the interbehavioral field construct may serve as a more suitable foundation for work in clinical behavior analysis. In proposing this the presentation also considers the value of conceptualizing thoughts and feelings as observable events and history as part of the present clinical context.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: Intermediate - audience should have basic understanding of behavioral principles, conditions of behavioral research, and complexities involved in practice settings.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Describe two aspects of the history of interbehavioral thinking in behavior analysis 2) Distinguish between the conditions of research and practice 3) Explain one implication of the interbehavioral field for Clinical Behavior Analysis

Something New, Something Old: Interbehaviorism in Behavior Science

MITCH FRYLING (California State University, Los Angeles)

Interbehaviorism has a long history in behavior analysis. The developer of interbehaviorism, J.R. Kantor, advocated for a thoroughly naturalistic approach to both the philosophy of science and the science of psychology. In 1937 Kantor founded The Psychological Record, with B. F. Skinner serving as the founding editor of the journal’s experimental department. Kantor did not conduct experimental research, but rather focused on developing the theoretical and philosophical foundation for a comprehensive natural science of psychology more broadly. While interbehavioral thinking has persisted and influenced research and scholarship around the world, Kantor’s work has at the same time remained less well-known in a discipline that values empirical research over theoretical coherence. Some researchers have even dismissed the interbehavioral perspective specifically, due to its alleged lack of utility in working towards successful action in applied/clinical areas. Interest in interbehavioral thinking continues, however, and interestingly perhaps especially among those close to applied research and practice. This presentation provides a brief overview of this history, and in particular draws attention to the current interest in interbehaviorism and its potential future.

Going All The Way
LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Understanding the behavior of human beings in ordinary life circumstances is complicated by the plethora of substitute stimulation and responding fostered by their verbal repertoires. One approach to this understanding has been to investigate partial happenings amenable to quantitative metrics the aim being to enable subsequent operations of prediction and control. This approach to the problem is not without value. However, reference to a multitude of unrelated dependency relations is not capable of capturing the complexity of human behavior in ordinary life circumstances, and it would not be surprising if clinicians were among the first to come to this conclusion. It is argued that an integrated field foundation, as exemplified by interbehaviorism, is better suited to the work of clinicians than the more prevalent contingency approach. Complexity is a relative term. Investigations of partial happenings are also complex. The aim of this presentation to consider the benefits of going all the way.
Implications of an Interbehavioral Perspective for Clinical Behavior Analysis
EMILY KENNISON SANDOZ (University of Louisiana Lafayette)
Abstract: Interbehaviorism and interbehavioral psychology have often been mischaracterized and dismissed by clinical behavior analysts as lacking practical utility. Instead, dominant clinical behavioral analytic approaches (e.g., Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy) have appealed to middle level terms to describe models of psychological difficulties and processes of change in therapy. This has likely increased dissemination of these approaches, but may also account for the gradual drift toward mentalism. Thus, it seems worth reconsidering the dismissal of interbehavioral psychology as a theoretical foundation for clinical behavior analysis. This paper proposes three aspects of interbehavioral psychology with clinical implications for moment to moment analysis of therapeutic process: (1) approaching the interbehavioral field as the primary unit of analysis, (2) including thoughts and feelings as observable interbehavior, and (3) including history as an aspect of the present.



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