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 #375
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Why Are We Not Acting to Save The World? Contextual Behavior Science Applied to Mainstream Cultural Problems
Monday, May 31, 2021
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: CSS; Domain: Translational
Chair: Brian Katz (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago)
Discussant: Shannon Ormandy (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
CE Instructor: Shannon Ormandy, M.A.

In a world in which tumultuous events such as political upheaval, police brutality, climate change, and untrustworthy media, occur at accelerating rates, we have a moral obligation to use our science towards nurturing ends. The following presentations present behavior analytic interpretations of propaganda, sustainable behavior, police brutality, and false information in social media environments. The authors in this symposium wish to inspire audience members to use behavior science to shift mainstream cultural problems.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): climate change, police brutality, propoganda, social media
Target Audience:

Audience members should have a growing skill-set in contextual behavior science including relational frame theory.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) define propaganda in behavioral terms; (2) identify ways in which the STEPS assessment can be used to assess climate change-related behaviors; (3) identify the potential functions of behaviors associated with reading, believing, and sharing fake news on social media; (4) recite the history of police conduct toward Black Americans and place this history in the contexts of Skinnerian and relational frame theory analyses of human behavior.
Diversity submission “In” or “Out”? An Analysis of the Use of Augmentals in U.S. Presidential Speeches on The Paris Climate Agreement
STEPHANIE CHAN (PlaySmart Child Development Society, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago), Brian Katz (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago)
Abstract: Augmentals, as a type of rule which alter the value of the consequences, have reinforcer establishing effects or punisher establishing effects (Hayes et al., 2002). Augmentals can be used in establishing cultural values that are beneficial for the populace (Leigland, 2005), or in publicizing political points of view to exert control on public opinion through propaganda (Rakos, 1993). Studies have shown the effect of augmentals in altering rates of of behavior in several different contexts including consumer purchasing behavior, smoking behavior among youth, and patients’ behavior in health care settings. The current study conducted a functional content analysis on two presidential speeches debating whether the United States should enter or exit the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. The purpose of the study was 1) to analyze the use of augmentals and frames in each speech, and 2) to examine their effects on public behavior. Each speech was coded. The number of reinforcer establishing augmentals and punisher establishing augmentals, as well as the number of different frames within augmenals were calculated. The results showed different patterns in the use of augmentals in President Trump’s speech, who attempted to persuade the populace to support exiting the Paris Climate Accord, compared to President Obama’s speech, who attempted to persuade the populace to support entering the agreement. Several implications of the study were discussed.
Diversity submission The Future is Bright: Saving the Earth One Step at a Time
(Applied Research)
MEREDITH MATTHEWS (Missouri State University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Caleb Stanley (Utah Valley University), Sydney Jensen (Utah Valley University), Taylor Marie Lauer (Missouri State University)
Abstract: We are rapidly approaching a climate point of no return (PNR) where recoverability of earth’s climate will concede expenses above current rates of production both domestic and abroad. Although a multi-level approach to solving the climate crisis is undoubtedly needed, some success may be achieved by increasing pro-environmental behaviors at the level of single subjects. We selected target pro-environmental behaviors using the STEPS assessment (Belisle, Stanley, et al., under review), an itemized list the identifies behavior targets ranging from relatively simple behavior change targets (e.g., recycling) to more complex targets (e.g., lobbying to state officials). Across 3 participants, we targeted multiple behaviors within a multiple experimental probe design. The behavior differed across the participants depending on their scores on the assessment. The intervention represented a synthesis of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Matrix (ACT Matrix) and a performance diagnostic assessment to identify barriers to completing the steps. Because each target builds on the last, this approach is also consistent with shaping successively more challenging topographies of pro-environmental behavior. Following the study, post-test climate emission scores were compared to pre-test scores.
Diversity submission Fake News and Social Media
KATHRYN M. ROOSE (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The 2016 U.S. presidential election will hold a place in history not only for the outcome, but for the events leading up to the election including the use of fake news in traditional media, but more specifically in social media. With over three billion people using social media worldwide, the online world has become a supportive environment for the quick, easy, and vast spread of any type of information, true or false. Thus, social media is filled with the distribution of false information spread either on purpose (e.g., knowingly spreading misinformation), or perhaps simply due to the inability to discriminate between the truth and lies, or the lack of effort in determining the veracity of the information. This presentation will examine the behaviors associated with reading, believing, and sharing fake news on social media, including verbal behavior, rule-governed behavior, and a behavioral perspective on cognitive biases.
Diversity submission A Behavioral Analysis of Police Brutality and Recommendations for Social Action
VANESSA BETHEA-MILLER (Bethea-Miller Behavioral Consulting, Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Cortenee Boulard (Florida Institute of Technology), Tom G. Szabo (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Police brutality against people of color in America has persisted despite remarkable gains resulting from the civil rights movement. B. F. Skinner’s account of human phylogeny, ontogeny, and culture is as profoundly relevant toward understanding this problem as it was during his lifetime. Recent scholarship on derived relational responding adds to the analysis of human practices that persist long after their acceptability has passed. In the current paper, we review the history of police conduct toward Black Americans and place this history in the contexts of Skinnerian and relational frame theory analyses of human behavior. We review the strengths and weaknesses of numerous redresses currently in use or commonly advocated and propose new strategies derived from the experimental analysis of human behavior.



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