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 : Saturday, May 27, 2023


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.
Paper Session #19
Behavior Based Safety (BBS) Implementation in a Construction Site Reality
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:30 AM–10:55 AM
Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall A-C
Area: OBM
Chair: Fabio Tosolin (Association for the Advancement of Radical Behavior Analysis)

Behavior Based Safety (BBS) Implementation in a Construction Site Reality

Domain: Service Delivery
FABIO TOSOLIN (Association for the Advancement of Radical Behavior Analysis), Maria Gatti (A.A.R.B.A.), Guglielmo Monnecchi (AARBA - Italy Associate Chapter), Carla Lasagna Del Val (AARBA - Italy Associate Chapter)

The study that will be presented, was carried out in a civil construction site of a double-track railway tunnel, in Italy, by two students of the engineer course of the University Politecnico of Milano. During the month of October 2022, the implementation of the B-BS protocol officially started, with the objective to increase the adoption of safe behaviors and develop a safety-based value culture for the entire construction site. Later, in May 2022, because of the relevant problems, in terms of safety and productivity, of failures and breakdowns with the machineries, an extension of the BBS project was decided to be taken forward, that specifically focused on the change of behaviors related to the maintenance of the machineries used by the workers, specifically for the miners group. For this purpose, specific pinpointing on maintenance behaviors was taken forward, with the construction of a checklist that was then used to observe and measure the behaviors. Through the baseline phase the company’s management team had the possibility to conduct a detailed analysis of the status of the maintenance of the machineries and select the objective behaviors for improvement. Through the use of graphs and data, the paper will present how a BBS process, with observations, measurements of behaviors through checklist and release of immediate feedback and monthly safety meeting, had an effect on the objective of increasing the maintenance behaviors of the machineries was shown.

Symposium #88
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Navigating Barriers to Large-Scale Change: Work, Clinical Applications, Education, and Climate
Saturday, May 27, 2023
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3C
Area: CSS/PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: William L. Heward (The Ohio State University)
Discussant: Thomas S. Critchfield (Illinois State University)
CE Instructor: Thomas S. Critchfield, Ed.D.

Successful behavior change interventions often fail to scale, limiting their impact. Analysis of the contingencies surrounding large-scale change is frequently required; indeed, the entire field of implementation science focuses on this challenge. Established empirical methods reminiscent of functional analysis - sometimes called "barriers analysis” or “determinants analysis” - identify potential barriers to adoption, and suggest ways to surmount them. A nonlinear analysis of the contingencies and meta-contingencies enhances this exercise. In this symposium, we use a comparative approach to deconstruct attempts to scale up interventions in organizations, large-n autism service delivery, K-12 education, and environmental sustainability. Interdisciplinary insights will add to the lessons learned. Developing a successful intervention is only the first step in an implementation process leading to meaningful large-scale change. And as prominently illustrated the case of climate change, we are rapidly running out of time to scale up.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): climate, education, metacontingencies, systems
Target Audience:

Intermediate: understand contingency analysis, meta-contingences

Learning Objectives: ...describe ways that histories of reinforcement influence interlocking behavioral contingencies (such as in cultural practices) ...identify experimental designs that could help increase the potential of behavior analysis in large groups in autism services ...analyze the contingencies surrounding large-scale applications of behavior analysis to education ...summarize the advantages of an interdisciplinary approach toward addressing the climate crisis.
Diversity submission Behavior Analytic Account of Cultural Change in Organizations and Beyond
RAMONA HOUMANFAR (University of Nevada, Reno), Alison Szarko (University of Nevada, Reno), Mark P. Alavosius (Praxis2LLC)
Abstract: The behavioral sciences are challenged to conduct the extensive and difficult analyses needed to pinpoint the variables that will bring about massive, yet crucial, changes in individual behaviors and organizational actions. These challenges may exceed the skill set and resources of these scientific communities especially when the focus is on individuals’ behaviors. The ideals, perseverance, and success in solving the socio-cultural problems addressed by behavior change suggest that behavior analysis is poised to scale behavioral sciences to address what may ultimately prove to be the biggest challenges that humans have ever faced. This presentation provides an overview of the elaborated account of metacontingency with the primary focus on ways this perspective offers points of entry to alter contextual factors that inform large-scale applications in organizations (public & private sectors) and at large. We discuss the multi- layered ways leader’s communication and groups members’ histories of reinforcement influence the observed patterns of interlocking behavioral contingencies, aggregate product, and the behavior topographies of consumers (i.e., cultural practices).
Diversity submission Challenges and Opportunities of Large-n Behavior-Analytic Research in Applied Settings
JAVIER VIRUES ORTEGA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Abstract: Applied behavior-analytic (ABA) interventions have traditionally relied on frequent samples of discrete behavior units compounded with unstandardized social validity measures as the sole basis of treatment evaluation. While this approach has served the field well for decades, it has faced fierce opposition from non-behavioral scientists who often rely on group-based studies and standardized outcomes as their lingua franca. This insidious conflict questions the very nature of scientific evidence and alienates behavior analysis from mainstream applied sciences. We will analyze common barriers to large-N research designs in ABA along with potential alternatives that may be compatible to both the single-subject and the nomothetic experimental traditions. The presenter will discuss two recent behavioral education studies as proof of concept illustrating experimental designs that could help to bridge the ideographic-epidemiological gap in ABA research: a mixed multiple-baseline randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, and a multi-arm RCT component analysis. These studies underline the potential of behavior analysis for the modification of socially important behavior in large groups in autism services and beyond.
Diversity submission Hiding in Plain Sight: The Impact of Behavior Analysis in Education
JANET S. TWYMAN (blast: a learning sciences company)
Abstract: Applied behavior analysis has had a substantial, yet largely unrecognized, impact on educational practice. Behavior analysts have had a role in delivering effective, efficient instruction since Skinner’s development of the teaching machine in the 1950’s. Major contributions in behavioral education—such as Skinner’s technology of teaching, Keller’s personalized systems of instruction, Markle’s instructional design and concept formation, Lindsley’s precision teaching, Heward’s active student responding, Johnson and Layng’s generative instruction, Horner and Sugai's school-wide positive behavior supports —have provided a foundation for meaningful, system-wide change in teaching and learning. Yet behavior analysts continue to lament the absence of widespread acceptance, often asking "Why hasn't behavior analysis played a larger role in education?" Perhaps our collective lamenting is misplaced. Perhaps behavior analysis is more pervasive in schools than we recognize. This presentation will consider how the analysis of a network of contingencies--not just of education systems but of our own approaches--might help us to recognize existing applications of behavior analysis in education and help spread their acceptance and use.
Diversity submission Overcoming Barriers to Climate Action
SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: One of the challenges of the climate crisis is the epic range of behavior changes needed. On the community level, school districts, businesses, neighborhoods, health care systems, and local governments all need to move faster toward sustainable practices. Scaling up existing successful projects is a way to get large-scale behavior change quickly. An essential element in that process - indeed, for any project - is an analysis of the barriers to change at the different levels (somewhat akin to functional analysis). Longstanding methods to do so exist, originally designed for public health applications, and now routinely used in the mainstream sustainability community. This presentation will explore these methods and their connections to behavior analysis, and provide examples that can serve as models for our own efforts toward addressing the climate crisis.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh