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

Program by Continuing Education Events: Saturday, May 27, 2023


Special Event #1
CE Offered: BACB
Opening Event and Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Award Ceremony
Saturday, May 27, 2023
8:00 AM–9:20 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1-4
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Carol Pilgrim (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Carol Pilgrim, Ph.D.

SABA Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis: Linda Hayes


The Company We Keep It is said that we are known by the company we keep. It is a way of acknowledging that we act like those with whom we surround ourselves, particularly as pertains to our core beliefs and values. The core beliefs and values of behavior analysts -- in being decidedly unusual in the history of reflections on the human condition – made for a particularly small group of companions in the early days. It was a group of radical naturalists with high hopes of saving the world by way of a profoundly different understanding of human behavior. That understanding enabled the development of highly efficacious applications, making a place for increasing numbers of practitioners. Ours is, as such, no longer a small group and as the core beliefs and values of large groups tend to have less cohesion than those of their smaller counterparts, it is worth considering whether we can still be known by the company we keep.

LINDA J. PARROTT HAYES (University of Nevada, Reno)
Linda Hayes is a Distinguished Faculty Emerita at the University of Nevada, Reno. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada and her graduate degrees from Western Michigan University. She was a member of the Behavior Analysis faculty at West Virginia University while completing her doctorate, after which she returned to Canada, taking a position at St. Mary’s University.  Linda co-founded the Behavior Analysis Program at the University of Nevada, Reno on a self-capitalization model and served as its director for over a decade. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to the training of behavior analysts including an Outstanding Teacher Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University, the Fred S. Keller Award for Teaching of Behavior Analysis from APA’s Division 25, an Outstanding Alumna Award from Western Michigan University and, for the program she founded, a SABA Award for Enduring Contributions to Behavior Analysis. Linda also founded UNR’s Satellite Programs in Behavior Analysis, currently serving students Saudi Arabia, China, and Kenya. Her efforts in this regard have earned her a Global Engagement Award from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a SABA International Development Award. Linda is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and has served two terms as its President. Linda’s scholarly interests have ranged from the experimental analysis of animal behavior to the logic of science. She has authored 13 books and over 180 journal articles and chapters

SABA Award for Scientific Translation: Kenneth Silverman


Operant Conditioning to Address Poverty-Related Health Disparities Poverty is a pervasive risk factor underlying poor health. Our research shows that operant conditioning can address poverty-related health disparities. This presentation will describe two key findings of this research. 1) Financial reinforcement for HIV viral suppression can maintain long-term HIV viral suppression in low-income adults living with HIV. 2) A reinforcement-based therapeutic workplace can maintain drug abstinence, promote employment, and reduce poverty. Under the therapeutic workplace, unemployed adults are hired and paid to work, and required to provide drug-free urine samples to maintain access to the workplace and/or maximum pay. The therapeutic workplace could serve as a model anti-poverty program, particularly for people with histories of drug addiction or other health problems.

KENNETH SILVERMAN (Johns Hopkins University)
Kenneth Silverman has been on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for over 30 years and is currently a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. His research has focused on developing operant treatments to address the interrelated problems of poverty and health. Concentrating on low-income adults, his research has investigated abstinence reinforcement interventions for the treatment of heroin and cocaine addiction; financial reinforcement to promote and maintain viral suppression in adults living with HIV; computer-based training to establish academic and job skills that chronically unemployed adults need to gain and maintain employment and escape poverty; and a reinforcement-based therapeutic workplace to promote and maintain drug abstinence and employment. He has made two major contributions: 1) He has shown that operant reinforcement can serve as a maintenance intervention to sustain long-term therapeutic behavior change in addressing chronic health problems. 2) He has developed the therapeutic workplace to treat drug addiction, promote employment, and reduce poverty.
SABA Award for International Dissemination: Zuilma Sigurðardóttir
Abstract: Planting Seeds of Behavior Analysis in Iceland for 30 Years: Accomplishing a Noble Mission A radical behaviorist from the University of Iceland learned to be a behavior analyst in the United States. Shortly after entering graduate studies in behavior analysis she met B. F. Skinner in a conference in De Kalb, Illinois and spoke to him shortly. She told him that she was going to establish behavior analysis in Iceland. She went back to Iceland six years later to do everything possible to establish behavior analysis in the country. With vision, commitment, constant hard work, and persistence, the mission was accomplished. Asssistance from friends and colleagues outside and inside the field, some national and other international, provided encouragement, support, and reinforcers needed to endure. Motivating students and building momentum for studies in behavior analysis abroad when none were available in the country was a very fruitful activity. Cultivating relationships with those students aided in encouraging new students to enter the field. Guiding and supporting them in their endevours payed off. Demonstrating successful applications in various contexts, entering academia and conducting behavior analytic research with students as well as teaching behavior analysis was key. Grabbing every opportunity to educate professionals and the public were also very important tools for establishing the field. Focusing always on progress made, accepting occasional disappointments, and welcoming big and small opportunities to disseminate behavior analysis were helpful strategies even when the road was rocky, the walk uphill, and a storm was raging. This all resulted in a growing demand for behavior analysis in the society and professionals who could meet some of the demand. The newest results are two master programs in behavior analysis in two universities and one PhD level behavior analyst in the third one. Behavior analysts in Iceland are now working together to establish national standards for their profession in their society.
Zuilma Gabriela Sigurðardóttir was born in Mexico City but moved from there at age 10 and settled down in Iceland at age 11 with her Mexican mother and Icelandic step father. She finished her BA in psychology in 1985 at the University of Iceland, her MA in Behavior Analysis and Therapy in 1989 at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and her PhD in Psychology in 1992 at Northeastern University-Boston. She first became member of ABAI in 1987. She has worked on the dissemination of behavior analysis in Iceland and Europe for 30 years. First as therapist, consultant, and adjunct faculty at the University of Iceland, while also being an administrator and developer of services for the disabled in Reykjavík as well as running a small private practice. Then she became administrator and developer of psychological services for schools at the compulsory level for the City of Reykjavík. She entered academia full time in 1999 as assistant professor of behavior analysis in the psychology department of the University of Iceland. She became associate professor in 2004 and full professor in 2018. She has taught behavior analysis at all levels, both required and elective courses that she established. She has guided and supervised approximately 190 students‘ research projects for thesis in behavior analysis at all levels, including the only PhD thesis in behavior analysis in Iceland so far. She has managed and coordinated graduate student practica in public schools for 23 years. She has aided Icelandic students to find programs of study in behavior analysis in the United States and Europe since 1998 and has guided them in the application process. She was recipient of the SABA international development grant in the year 2000 and set up a website with information about programs in behavior analysis in the United States and all kinds of practical information related to moving with a family to study abroad. She was department chair of the psychology department at the University of Iceland in 2003-2005. She was president of the European Association for Behavior Analysis in 2015-2017 and past-president in 2017-2020. Her research interests include the analysis of language acquisition from a stimulus equivalence paradigm and applied behavior analysis in various contexts. Her research has been published in JEAB, JABA, TAVB, but also in non-behavioral scientific journals, both national and international. She has served as associate editor of EJOBA and JOBE for many years and was on the review board of EJOBA for several years prior to becoming associate editor. She has reviewed manuscripts for other scientific journals, including JEAB, and for scientific journals in various other disciplines as well. She has served as reviewer of grant proposals for the Icelandic Research Council and other granting agencies. She was an exchange teacher at the University of Latvia with Erasmus fellowships in 2015-2019 and led the establishment of the Baltic Association for Behavior Analysis. She has continued teaching behavior analysis for Latvia through the internet during the pandemic. She aided in coordinating the first conference on behavior analysis in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2016. She has taught re-education courses for elementary school teachers, psychologists, administrators, and allied health professionals in Iceland and Latvia. She has also offered behavior management classes to parents and teachers in Iceland in Icelandic, English, and Spanish. She has had a small private practice where she provides services to families. She presently serves as board chairman of the newly established Applied Behavior Analysis masters program at the University of Iceland. She enjoys travel and culture and classical music concerts, family gatherings, and her dog. She has two adult children and a grand-daughter on the way.
SABA Award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions: Oslo Metropolitan University
Abstract: The master’s program in Behavioral Science – formerly known as Learning in Complex Systems – admitted its first students in the Fall of 2004 and was accredited by ABAI in 2010. In the Fall of 2022, 135 students were admitted to the full- and part-time programs. The student base is cross-disciplinary. Along with a solid grounding in theory and research methods in behavior analysis, students pick elective courses from applied behavior analysis and write a thesis in the form of a scientific article. The department of Behavioral Science also runs an ABAI-accredited bachelor’s program in psychology with an emphasis on behavior analysis, and a Ph. D. program in behavior analysis. The scientific community is strong and well-respected, and faculty have large international networks. The department welcomes visiting scholars and students with good specific master’s thesis projects. The program has strived to integrate behavior analysis with complexity science, network analysis, and economics, offering elective courses in OBM, risk management, behavioral economics and complex human behavior, as well as Early Intensive Behavioral Interventions and professional ethics.
INGUNN SANDAKER (Oslo Metropolitan University/ OsloMet)
Ingunn Sandaker, professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet) in Norway, received her Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Oslo in 1997. She has served in numerous roles, including as dean of studies for social work and special education at Oslo College, and as head of planning and development at Oslo HVPU (division of state services for those with developmental disabilities). She was project manager at OsloMet and instrumental in establishing its master’s and Ph.D. programs in behavior analysis; she has since been director of those programs until recently. Combining expertise in both behavior analysis and systems design/analysis (behavior systems), she served as a consultant and advisor to major corporations, including Norway’s huge oil sector and the Norwegian Olympic Committee, where, as leadership training project director, she played a significant role in enhancing participation and awards for women athletes. Her efforts have helped secure behavior analysis as an established discipline in Norway. In addition, Professor Sandaker has been a leader in international dissemination, serving as the international representative to ABAI’s Executive Council. She is also on the editorial board of the Norwegian Journal of Behavior Analysis and associate editor of Perspectives on Behavior Science.

SABA Award for Effective Presentation of Behavior Analysis in the Mass Media: APOPO


Since 2007, APOPO’s Mine Action Program has released nearly 86 million square meters of land to local communities, freeing over 5.8 million people from the threat of land mines and avoiding an estimated 58,000 injuries and deaths. In 2017, APOPO completed all work in Mozambique after the country was declared to be mine free (a year ahead of schedule). It has now shifted its de-mining efforts to other countries, such as Cambodia, where it is partnering with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre. APOPO is collaborating closely with partners like Humanity Inclusion and Mines Advisory Group to develop iterations of its existing rat and dog mine-detection technology, in order to speed up the process of detecting cluster munition remnants and urban area IEDs‚ which are increasingly becoming important parts of humanitarian mine action. Since 2007, APOPO’s Tuberculosis Program has evaluated hundreds of thousands of samples, identified over 13,000 tuberculosis patients, and prevented an estimated 32,000 additional infections. In Maputo, Mozambique, APOPO’s detection method has led to a 40 percent increase in the tuberculosis detection rate.

Charlie joined the APOPO team in December 2014 as US Director, based in Washington DC. At APOPO Charlie is responsible for building new partnerships and projects with US based organizations and government funders that can help APOPO build its Research and Mine Detection programs. Charlie leads global innovative finance fundraising at APOPO, and is currently developing the first ever Development Impact Bond for Mine Action and linked agricultural development in Cambodia, a project that all stakeholders involved hope to scale to Ukraine. Charlie is also responsible for developing APOPO's independent US based 501c3 organization.
Target Audience:

All convention registrants are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Symposium #3
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluation of Modified Functional Analyses of and Treatment for Feline Aggression Toward Humans
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom E
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
CE Instructor: Jennifer N. Fritz, Ph.D.
Abstract: Aggression exhibited by cats toward humans is a common reason for relinquishment of cats to animal shelters. This symposium will include two presentations focused on modified approaches to functional analyses (FA) of aggression – trial-based FA and precursor FA. Both approaches were evaluated to potentially minimize instances of aggression during assessment and inform effective, function-based treatment. Varied approaches to treatment were evaluated in the studies, and the relative effectiveness and advantages to each approach will be discussed.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): aggression, function-based treatment, functional analysis, shelter cats
Target Audience: The audience should have experience with functional analysis and function-based treatment for challenging behavior.
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe how to implement a trial-based functional analysis (FA) with cats 2. Describe how to implement a precursor identification assessment and precursor FA with cats 3. Describe how to implement various function-based treatments with cats to decrease aggression, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each approach

Trial-Based Functional Analysis With Shelter Cats

STEVEN W. PAYNE (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), Valerie Guzman (Butterfly Effects)

Shelter cats who exhibit problem behavior are less likely to be adopted and may be euthanized. Functional analysis has been shown useful for identifying the variables that maintain problem behavior in some nonhuman animals. However, traditional functional analysis methodology can be difficult to use in shelter settings. Trial-based functional analyses (TBFAs), which are conducted in the natural environment and require few instances of problem behavior, may be useful. However, the efficacy of TBFAs has not been demonstrated with non-humans. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the TBFA for use with shelter cat problem behavior. TBFAs were conducted on the aggressive behavior of three cats and the results were used to create a function-based interventions. Results showed that problem behaviors were maintained by escape from humans and function-based treatments reduced problem behaviors to below 80% of baseline levels. Implications and practical issues will be discussed.

Functional Analysis of Precursors to Aggression Exhibited by Cats During Petting
JENNIFER TRANG NGUYEN (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Victoria Fletcher (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Amanda Davis (University of Houston-Clear Lake; Concept Connections)
Abstract: Treatment of aggression based on the results of a functional analysis (FA) is one of the most effective methods to increase the adoptability of aggressive shelter cats and decrease the rate of relinquishment following adoption (Fritz et al., 2021; Salmeron et al., 2021). However, previous studies examining the use of FAs with feline subjects have cited injuries to the experimenters as a limitation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of precursor FAs when used to determine the function of aggression exhibited by felines. First, the experimenters conducted a precursor assessment and a probability analysis to objectively identify precursors to aggression. Then, both a precursor FA and an aggression FA were separately conducted, and the results compared to evaluate the degree of correspondence. For all participants, FA outcomes showed that precursors were maintained by the same variables as aggression. Thus, FAs of precursors may be an effective and viable means to determine the function of aggression exhibited by cats in order to inform behavioral interventions.
Treatment Comparison for Escape-Maintained Aggression by Cats During Petting
VICTORIA FLETCHER (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Amanda Davis (University of Houston-Clear Lake; Concept Connections), Abigail Konecki (University of Houston - Clear Lake), Jennifer Trang Nguyen (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: One of the most common reasons cat owners give for re-homing is aggression. Functional analysis methodology has been shown to identify the function of aggression in cats and function-based treatment was effective in decreasing the behavior. This study aimed to identify the most effective and efficient treatment for reducing cats’ aggression maintained by escape from petting. Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR), differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO), and DRO with arbitrary positive reinforcement (SR+) were evaluated. For one cat, all three interventions were effective in reducing aggression in a comparable number of sessions. For two other cats, DRO with SR+ was more effective than the other two treatments and aggression met mastery criteria in fewer sessions. Identifying more efficient and effective interventions for problem behavior may reduce injuries sustained by lessening the occurrences of behavior, be easier for non-behavior analysts to implement, and lead to higher social validity. If shelter or rescue staff are able and willing to implement procedures, treatment may be implemented and available for more cats who engage in aggression during petting, which may increase the likelihood that they will be adopted.
Symposium #3A
CE Offered: BACB
Foundations of Care: An Organizational Approach to Ensuring Compassionate Service Delivery
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1E/F
Area: AUT/OBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Liisa Podosek (Centria Autism)
Discussant: Timothy Michael Yeager (Centria Healthcare)
CE Instructor: Hillary Laney, M.Ed.

The field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is facing tumultuous discussion regarding ethics, quality, and organizational status (Silbaugh & El Fattal, 2021). Clinical quality at large ABA agencies requires alignment unilaterally from the executive team through the individual provider to be effective. Identifying and adopting a model that aligns with evidence based practice, safety, compassion, dignity and respect may provide a guiding compass for organizations looking to improve the quality of their services and achieve meaningful outcomes. This symposium includes four presentations that will outline how a nationwide organization has integrated the values of the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skill Based Treatment (SBT) to develop a Response to Intervention model, called the Foundations to Care, that starts with an entry level behavior intervention plan for all clients, then utilizes the PFA and SBT as components for the assessment and treatment of interfering behavior. The first presentation provides an outline of the major components of the entry level behavior plan, the Foundational Plan and preliminary data from its adoption across initial training and implementation efforts. The second presentation will describe the adoption of the PFA as a functional analysis to inform treatment and organization-wide data supporting its effective and efficient use. The third presentation will highlight the impact of Skill Based Treatment across interfering behaviors and skill acquisition domains. The fourth presentation will provide an overview of the mentorship model used to train clinicians in all components of the Foundations of Care and its effect on clinical practice. The discussant will comment on large-scale adoption of evidence-based, values driven care which leads to socially valid changes in the lives of clients and their families.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): compassionate care, functional analysis, mentorship, organizational change
Target Audience:

Audience members should have foundational skills in the area of behavior intervention, building interventions from assessment, program design, shaping, and an understanding of functional analysis

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to 1. Understand how an RTI model can be effective at a large scale business for the treatment of interfering behavior 2. Understand the utility of the practical functional analysis for practitioners in the field of ABA 3. Understand how the application of Skill Based Treatment supports meaningful outcomes for clients

The Foundational Plan: A Response to Intervention Approach to Support Compassionate Service Delivery From Intake Through Graduation

CYNTHIA KENNEDY (Centria Healthcare)

The Foundational Plan (FP) is part of a tier one Response-to-Intervention (RTI model) aimed at improving treatment implementation and reducing barriers to learning skills (Hughes & Dexter, 2011). The Foundational Plan identifies optimal teaching opportunities by first identifying what Happy-Relaxed-Engaged (HRE) looks like for the client and then establishes best practices for introducing learning opportunities, creating an enriched environment, reducing aversive stimuli, setting boundaries, and creating therapeutic alliance. In line with values of client-centered care, there are specific instructions related to necessary routines and how to respond to interfering b