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.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #8
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Applied Behavior Analysis: The Potential for Improving International Societal Problems
Friday, September 2, 2022
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Liffey Hall 1
Area: CSS/OBM; Domain: Theory
Chair: Robert F. Putnam (May Institute)
Discussant: Robert F. Putnam (May Institute)
CE Instructor: Robert F. Putnam, Ph.D.

This symposium will look at the potential for improving societal problems using applied behavior analysis across the globe. First, the two papers examine contextual and cultural concerns that should be pertinent to behavior analysts. Secondly, how do we use our technology and ethical values to improve society? Finally, both papers will review how our ethics code should influence this work. The first paper (Smilak & Putnam, under review) examines the colonization of African nations from a Skinnerian perspective and its impact on the current functioning of African populations. Next, a brief review of the research will be presented. Finally, suggestions will be outlined for behavior analysts interested in international dissemination, specifically looking at the role of participatory community development in alleviating colonial relations between these regions. The second paper will use a multi-tiered data-based decision-making framework to address community issues using applied behavior analytic principles. This type of framework has been used extensively in schools. A brief review of the literature will be presented of its use in community settings. Finally, suggestions will be outlined for behavior analysts interested in using this framework in addressing social problems.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Knowledge of cultural applied behavior analysis, multitiered system of support organizational behavior management

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) list the impacts of colonialism in behavior analytical terms (2) list some suggestions of how to use applied behavioral analysis principles to improve societal outcomes with diverse populations (3) state the purpose of the Evidence-Based Policy Act of 2018 (Kane, 2019) and how applied behavior principles interface with this ACT
The Role of Community Participation in Disseminating Applied Behavior Analysis to Formerly Colonized African Nations
NICOLE RENEE SMILAK (Endicott College)
Abstract: In Skinner’s chapter titled The Ethics of Helping People, he states, "By giving too much help, we postpone the acquisition of effective behavior and perpetuate the need for help" (Skinner, 1978, p. 63). The detrimental effects of helping and its impact, as described by Skinner, are especially evident in African countries that were formerly colonized. Those effects continue through the delivery of modern aid by western nations. Robust reinforcement contingencies surround the helper, and the helped, which creates and maintains a reciprocal dominating/dependent relationship that has stifled growth in the past and continues to do so in the present. Considering that behavior analysis was born in the western world, any dissemination efforts to formerly colonized African countries will perpetuate the power dynamic conceived from colonial 'helping' practices. In this paper, suggestions will be outlined for behavior analysts interested in international dissemination, specifically looking at the role of participatory community development in alleviating colonial relations between these regions (Smilak & Putnam, under review).

Evidence-Based Public Policy: In Context With a Multi-Tiered Framework

DENA WASSERMAN (Endicott College )

The multi-tiered framework is derived from behavior analytic theory. It is employed as a system-wide intervention system to effectively remediate behavioral, academic, and organizational problems on a large scale. With the advent of legislative reform in federal education policy in 1997, schools were required to ensure a continuance of evidence-based practices (EBP), firmly grounded on the principles of applied behavior analysis, to remediate school-related issues (Horner & Sugai, 2015). With this come challenges, such as employing a systematic framework that could adapt to each unique school culture. However, after 20 years of research and development, most schools today utilize MTSS, mainly because it aligns EBP standards with respect to each unique school environment (Hollenback, 2007). Similarly, public policy implementation has recently entered the same predicament with the advent of the Evidence-Based Policy Act of 2018 (Kane, 2019). Public policy implementation is now grappling with the conundrum of finding a universal fit for contextually diverse populations (Oliver et al., 2014). This paper describes the implication of the Evidence-Based Policy Act of 2018 on public policy implementation, the current need for universal applications of EPB, and how the multi-tiered framework can address these standards while simultaneously adapting to diverse community circles that are inherent in policy implementation.




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