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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Paper Session #120
Affordances and Behavior Theory: Debate and Implications
Saturday, May 29, 2021
4:00 PM–4:25 PM
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Advanced
Chair: Andres H. Garcia-Penagos (Delta State University)
Affordances and Behavior Theory: Debate and Implications
Domain: Theory
ANDRES H. GARCIA-PENAGOS (Delta State University)
Abstract: J. J. Gibson coined the term of “affordances” as the culmination of his theoretical and experimental program to understand perception from a naturalistic standpoint. In recent decades, the concept has been gaining growing circulation in a wide variety of basic and applied fields, in ways that don’t necessarily fit with Gibson’s original formulation. While the non-mediational nature of the notion has been generally welcome from behavior-analytic quarters, with some authors attempting to articulate it within behavior theory (e.g., Killeen & Jacobs, 2017), it has also raised skepticism, both in terms of its redundancy with respect to concepts such as that of discriminative stimulus, and in terms of its use in both basic and applied settings. The notion has profound implications about the understanding of stimulation and about ontological issues in behavior theory, such as the issue of realism about behavior. This paper will describe in detail the notion as developed by Gibson, and the developments and controversies about its definition in ecological psychology, will review the recent trend in the use (and abuse) of the concept in a variety of academic fields, and will characterize the debate, controversies, and tensions involved in its reception in the behavior-analytic field.



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