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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Invited Symposium #98
CE Offered: BACB
Values and Choice: Contemporary Experimental Research on Bias
Saturday, May 29, 2021
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Domain: Translational
Chair: Michele R. Traub (St. Cloud State University)
CE Instructor: Michele R. Traub, Ph.D.

Experimental behavior analysis has produced a robust literature on the role of bias in matching and choice. Despite its beginnings in the laboratory, this work has extended far beyond simple choice models and operant responses to address how bias impacts social responding. This symposium will present contemporary research on the assessment of implicit bias, translational models of choice, and the ways in which bias can impact the choices researchers make within the laboratory.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students. 

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe in broad terms how the IRAP has been used to study implicit bias; (2) explain how recent experimental analyses of the IRAP have refined the RFT view of implicit bias; (3) discuss the relationship between delay disounting and bias; (4) describe how bias has impacted women in research; (5) describe how bias has impacted the inclusion of female laboratory animals in research; (6) describe potential harm from the exclusion of women and female laboratory animals in research.

The Study of Implicit Bias in Behavior Analysis: A Cautionary Tale

(Service Delivery)
DERMOT BARNES-HOLMES (Ulster University)

The study of implicit bias in behavior analysis has been dominated by one particular method, the implicit relational assessment procedure (IRAP). The IRAP could be considered quite unusual as a method for studying implicit bias because it targets verbal relations as defined within relational frame theory (RFT). In contrast, implicit bias in the non-behavior-analytic “mainstream” literature is often interpreted as reflecting the strength of associative links in a mental realm (e.g., a memory store). Despite this conceptual difference, research on implicit bias using the IRAP could be seen as relatively successful, at least in terms of number of published studies and the results of a meta-analysis of IRAP studies. On balance, until relatively recently IRAP research tended to focus on the method as a measure of implicit bias without conducting experimental analyses of the multiple variables, from an RFT perspective, that are brought into play when participants complete an IRAP. Conducting these more recent experimental analyses has served to produce an increasingly sophisticated and complex understanding of exactly what so called “implicit bias” involves from an RFT and a behavior-analytic perspective. The current paper will provide an overview of this research story.

Dr. Dermot Barnes-Holmes graduated from the University of Ulster in 1985 with a B.Sc. in Psychology and in 1990 with a D.Phil. in behavior analysis. His first tenured position was in the Department of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, where he founded and led the Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Science unit. In 1999 he accepted the foundation professorship in psychology and head-of-department position at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. In 2015 he accepted a life-time senior professorship at Ghent University in Belgium. In 2020 he returned to his alma mater on a fractional contract as a full professor at Ulster University. Dr. Barnes-Holmes is known internationally for the analysis of human language and cognition through the development of Relational Frame Theory with Steven C. Hayes, and its application in various psychological settings. He was the world's most prolific author in the experimental analysis of human behavior between the years 1980 and 1999. He was awarded the Don Hake Translational Research Award in 2012 by the American Psychological Association, is a past president and fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, is a recipient of the Quad-L Lecture Award from the University of New Mexico and became an Odysseus laureate in 2015 when he received an Odysseus Type 1 award from the Flemish Science Foundation in Belgium.

The Role of Delay Discounting in Explicit and Implicit Racial Bias

(Service Delivery)
D. PEREZ (University of Utah), Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez (Utah State University), Amy Odum (Utah State University)

Delay discounting measures a facet of impulsivity and is related to various socially significant behaviors. Researchers suggest that altruism and impulsivity arise from the same underlying mechanism; thus, individuals are less altruistic towards people that are different from themselves (e.g., a different race or ethnicity). However, researchers have yet to analyze the relation between delay discounting and implicit and explicit racial bias. In the present study, participants will complete a delay discounting procedure and several Likert scale surveys: the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP), the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS), and the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE). The delay discounting task will assess discounting for two delayed magnitudes (i.e., $100 & $1000) using an adjusting amount procedure. The IRAP measures implicit racial bias by having participants categorize stimuli based on either pro-Latino stereotypes or pro-White stereotypes; the difference in the length of time required to categorize stimuli that are consistent or inconsistent with the stereotypes measures bias. To examine explicit racial bias, we will use the total scores on the CoBRAS and the SEE. We expect participants who steeply discount delayed rewards will be more implicitly and explicitly racially biased toward members of a different race or ethnicity.

D. Perez is a doctoral student in the Experimental Behavior Analysis Program at Utah State University. D completed her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at California State University Northridge. Her research interests are racial bias, social discounting, delay discounting, impulsivity, and incorporating multicultural psychology into behavior analysis. In her free time, she enjoys photography, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with her dog, Luna.

Mouse-ogyny: Bias Against Female Laboratory Animals

(Service Delivery)
AMY ODUM (Utah State University)

Historically, women have experienced bias in science. This bias has affected women as participants in research, as well as women as conductors of research. Although little recognized, another form of bias extends to female laboratory animals. Female laboratory animals, particularly rodents, have long been regarded as more variable in their behavior and other dependent measures and therefore were excluded from experiments. I will describe the inclusion of female laboratory animals in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. I will describe trends over time in the inclusion of female laboratory animals for different types of animals (e.g., pigeons and rats). For studies involving both sexes and in which animals are identified by sex, I will examine the level of variability in the behavior of male and female animals. Finally, I will review published data describing the variability in a wide variety of dependent measures for both male and female laboratory animals. These data show that female laboratory animals have been excluded from research based on bias rather than fact. The exclusion of female laboratory animals precludes learning about genuine sex differences with important health implications and is no longer allowed in NIH-funded research.

Amy Odum is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Her research interests are in basic behavioral phenomena, such as response persistence, sensitivity to delayed outcomes, conditional discriminations, and environmental influences on drug effects. She is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in behavior analysis. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Vermont’s Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory after earning her Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology, specializing in Behavior Analysis, from West Virginia University. She received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida. Dr. Odum has served as President of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. She is a Fellow of ABAI and was Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.



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