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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #76
CE Offered: PSY
Diversity submission Culturo-Behavior Science Updates on Earth-Threatening International Problems
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall D-G
Area: CSS/PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: Susan M. Schneider (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Susan M. Schneider (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Richard F. Rakos, Ph.D.

The global community is facing an onslaught of wide-ranging, multi-determined, and vexing cross-national conflicts, environmental threats, political and social upheavals, human and animal migrations, health and economic inequities, and human rights violations, to name a few prominent social ills. Culturo-behavior science (CBS) has evolved into a behavior analytic approach that draws on concepts like the metacontingency and context to analyze and intervene with social and cultural problems on the systems level. The increase in prominence achieved by CBS can be seen in recent books (e.g., Cihon & Mattaini, 2020) and journal issues (e.g., Perspectives on Behavior Science, Hantula, 2019) devoted to it, as well as in the growth of Behavior and Social Issues, the ABAI journal devoted exclusively to addressing social problems through behavior analysis. This symposium, sponsored by Behaviorists for Social Responsibility, presents recent CBS work on two urgent global problems that potentially have Earth-threatening consequences: war and climate change.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts interested in applying their skills to systemic social problems

Learning Objectives: After this symposium, attendees will be able to (1) describe the range of application of behavior science to climate change, the limits to date, and future directions for application; (2) analyze and categorize state-promoted propaganda in terms of stimulus control mechanisms, and (3) utilize systems-level analytic tools to more comprehensively identify the environmental determinants of climate-friendly behaviors and of war propaganda
Diversity submission 

Losing Wartime Hearts and Minds: The Limits to Antecedent Stimulus Control in the Twenty-First Century

RICHARD F. RAKOS (Cleveland State University)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was accompanied by torrents of state-promulgated propaganda. From the behavior analytic perspective, propaganda is promoted through antecedent stimulus control, as demonstrated by Rakos (1993) for the first US-Iraq war; this analysis categorized US war propaganda missives in terms of stimulus equivalence, motivating operations, rules, and discriminative stimuli and assessed their functional impact. The current inquiry follows a similar strategy, but updates the analysis by using newer conceptual tools like the metacontingency and contextual behavior science. This examination of the Russian propaganda effort reveals it to be less successful than the US campaign in 1990. A comparison of the propaganda strategies used by the US in 1990 with those used by Russia in 2022 expose important similarities in stimulus control tactics, despite the two countries’ political and ideological differences. But the analysis also suggests key differences that may contribute to the lesser impact of the Russian propaganda effort.

Diversity submission Global Warming: Recent Efforts in Behavior Analysis
MARK P. ALAVOSIUS (Praxis2LLC), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Global warming is described as a “super wicked problem” by policy scientists. This label emphasizes urgency of preparing for the accelerating warming of the planet and the vast impacts this will levy on all life. The behavior analysis community has addressed the topic at least since the 1970s as revealed in research articles, texts, and conference presentations. While other applications of behavior analysis currently dominate efforts of the scientific and service community, advances in culture-behavior science indicate conceptual analyses may be laying foundations for more urgent, expansive effort that can build on preceding work to address climate change. The journal “Behavior and Social Issues” (BSI) published a special section on behavior and climate change in 2022 to summarize the current efforts; a second section is invited for publication in 2023. This address considers the recent conceptual, experimental, and applied work conveyed in these BSI publications as well as several notable recent ABAI books*. A likely path ahead is outlined that entails an iterative approach in which behavior analysts engage actively with efforts to advance culturo-behavior science and organize our future lives to be less environmentally harmful and more sustainable. The ABAI concentration in culturo-behavior science offers an initiative that can promote young researchers and practitioners to allocate effort toward better understanding and changing behaviors critical to preserving future well-being.



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