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.

  • CBM: Clinical/Family/Behavioral Medicine

    DEV: Behavioral Development

    EAB: Experimental Analysis of Behavior

    PCH: Philosophical, Conceptual, and Historical Issues

    PRA: Practice

    VRB: Verbal Behavior

Ninth International Conference; Paris, France; 2017

Program by Invited Events: Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Invited Paper Session #5

A Brief History of Basic Behavior-Analytic Research on Human Language and Cognition: From Skinner to Derived Relations and Beyond

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Scene AB, Niveau 0
Area: PCH; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Dermot Barnes-Holmes, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Costa Hubner (University of São Paulo)
Dr. Dermot Barnes-Holmes received his D.Phil. in behavioral analysis and behavioral biology from the University of Ulster, Coleraine, N. Ireland. He currently serves as Senior Full Professor and Odysseus Laureate at Ghent University, Belgium, having previously served on the faculties of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and University College Cork. Dr. Barnes-Holmes is an extraordinarily prolific researcher who has made extensive contributions to the behavior analytic literature, especially in the areas of language and cognition. The competitive and prestigious Odysseus Laureate awarded to Dr. Barnes-Holmes in 2015 is just the most recent recognition of the esteem in which his work is held among behavioral scientists internationally. He contributed substantively to the development of Relational Frame Theory and has been a major source, either directly or through his more than 35 doctoral students, of the frequently cited empirical studies that support the theory. Since 1989, Dr. Barnes-Holmes has published 224 peer-reviewed articles, 40 book chapters, and 7 books or edited volumes. His work is known for its creativity and breadth in addressing complex questions about human language and cognition, with a coherent conceptual and methodological approach. This work has received more than �3.5 million in competitive funding since 2000, and has resulted in a number of prestigious awards and recognitions.

The history of basic research in behavior analysis on human language and cognition could be traced back to the publication of Skinner's (1957) Verbal Behavior and to the distinction that he made subsequently between contingency-shaped versus rule-governed behavior in An Operant Analysis of Problem Solving (Skinner, 1966). Although basic research studies were slow to emerge from the former work, the latter publication was critical in generating a whole plethora of studies that were directly relevant to the behavior analytic study of human language and cognition. The seminal research on equivalence relations by Sidman (1994) and colleagues, which commenced in the early 1970s and led to the development of relational frame theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001), provided another critically important source of inspiration for basic research in this area. The current paper will present an overview of this 60-year-old unfolding research story and will consider some empirical and conceptual issues that appear to require focused attention as the story continues to unfold across the coming decades.

Target Audience:

Licensed behavior analysts, psychologists, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) provide a brief summary of the major milestones in the history of basic research in human language and cognition from a behavior-analytic perspective; (2) explain how Sidman’s research on equivalence relations clarified the concept “specification” in the area of rule-governed behavior; (3) articulate the definition of arbitrarily applicable relational responding and provide some simple examples of how it provides a behavior-analytic account of human language and cognition.
Invited Paper Session #18
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

The Growing Impact of Behavioral Science on Cultural Evolution

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Scene AB, Niveau 0
Area: PCH; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Anthony Biglan, Ph.D.
Chair: Maria E. Malott (Association for Behavior Analysis International)
ANTHONY BIGLAN (Oregon Research Institute)
Anthony Biglan, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist at Oregon Research Institute. He is the author of The Nurture Effect: How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve our Lives and Our World. Dr. Biglan has been conducting research on the development and prevention of child and adolescent problem behavior for the past 30 years. His work has included studies of the risk and protective factors associated with tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; high-risk sexual behavior; and antisocial behavior. He has conducted numerous experimental evaluations of interventions to prevent tobacco use both through school-based programs and community-wide interventions. And, he has evaluated interventions to prevent high-risk sexual behavior, antisocial behavior, and reading failure. In recent years, his work has shifted to more comprehensive interventions that have the potential to prevent the entire range of child and adolescent problems. He and colleagues at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences published a book summarizing the epidemiology, cost, etiology, prevention, and treatment of youth with multiple problems (Biglan et al., 2004). He is a former president of the Society for Prevention Research. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Prevention, which released its report in 2009 documenting numerous evidence-based preventive interventions that can prevent multiple problems. As a member of Oregon�s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, he is helping to develop a strategic plan for implementing comprehensive evidence-based interventions throughout Oregon. Information about Dr. Biglan�s publications can be found at

In the pastseventy years, the behavioral sciences achieved knowledge of human behavior and cultural evolution that is beginning to reap significant benefits in terms of improving human well-being. This presentation will provide a brief overview of the knowledge we have gained with special emphasis on the behavior analytic roots of much of that progress. Dr. Biglan will then provide specific and diverse examples of how effective interventions are being implemented around the world at a scale that is beginning to affect the well-being of entire populations.

Target Audience:

Licensed behavior analysts, psychologists, graduate students

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to: (1) describe or identify how the onset of new learned reinforcers (i.e., conditioned reinforcers) establish verbal behavior developmental cusps; (2) define how the terms transformation of stimulus function apply to learning to spell words across saying and writing; (3) explain how children who have demonstrated learning the names of things incidentally (presence of the bi-directional naming cusp) can be taught differently than children who do not demonstrate this verbal behavior developmental cusp; (4) describe or identify accurate statements concerning Greer’s argument that, “if you build reinforcers the behaviors will come;” (5) explain the importance of social reinforcers in verbal behavior development.
Invited Paper Session #30
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Heart and Soul

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Scene AB, Niveau 0
Area: PCH; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Peter R. Killeen, Ph.D.
Chair: Jack Marr (Georgia Tech)
PETER R. KILLEEN (Arizona State University)
Dr. Peter Killeen is professor of psychology at Arizona State University, and has also been visiting scholar at the University of Texas, Cambridge University, and the Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo. He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, has held a Senior Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, has been president of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (from which organization he appropriately received the Poetry in Science Award in 2002), held the American Psychological Association F. J. McGuigan Lectureship on Understanding the Human Mind, and received the Ernest and Josephine Hilgard Award for the Best Theoretical Paper (Killeen & Nash, 2003). Dr. Killeen has made many highly innovative and fundamental contributions to the experimental and quantitative analysis of behavior. His major work includes the development of incentive theory, culminating in the mathematical principles of reinforcement (Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1994), and the behavioral theory of timing (Psychological Review, 1988). He is the author of 80 peer-reviewed papers, many of which have been heavily cited. He has served on the boards of editors of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Behavioural Processes, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Psychological Review, Brain & Behavioral Functions, and Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews. Dr. Killeen's quantitative and conceptual developments have enriched behavior analysis and the world beyond.

Words that mean so much to all of us–either as the center of our meaningful existence–or as four-letter words writ large. Blaise Pascal understood that, “The heart has reasons that Reason cannot know.” “And needn’t know!” is quickly echoed by radical behaviorists. Here, in the City of Love, I ask if they could possibly be right; whether to be a good science, ours must be a heartless science. Physics and chemistry cannot be other. Must behaviorism? Bemused with Carneaux in experimental chambers, is there room for behaviorists in the labyrinthine chambers of the heart? In this talk I begin to unweave the rainbow of heart and soul; hoping–and you shall judge if I succeed in showing the possibility–that once experimentally analyzed, some reasons can be found that reason can know; and that some life, indeed, some mystery, still lives in the analysands.

Target Audience:

Licensed behavior analysts, psychologists, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain how love is a hypothetical construct; (2) explain how love is an emotion constructed out of affect and context; (3) explain how to find love.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh