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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #477
CE Offered: BACB
Touchy Feely Fluffy Feelings: Current Research and Future Directions in Empathy and Perspective Taking
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
214A (CC)
Area: PRA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Adel C. Najdowski (Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD))
Discussant: Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)
CE Instructor: Adel C. Najdowski, Ph.D.
Abstract: Radical behaviorism is the philosophy that underlies behavior analysis as a comprehensive science of behavior and states that anything a person does is behavior, and in turn, part of the subject matter of behavior analysis. This includes private events even though they cannot be directly observed by others (Skinner, 1945, 1974). Currently, the behavior analytic skill acquisition research literature provides a heavy emphasis on teaching relatively simple repertoires of behavior, and inclusion of more complicated repertoires is needed if we are to have a comprehensive science of human behavior. Two areas that fall into this category include perspective taking and empathy. This symposium will provide a review of research on perspective taking and empathy and discuss directions for future research.
Keyword(s): autism, empathy, perspective taking, RFT
Caring About You Caring About Me: What Research on Perspective Taking Have we Done and Where are we Going?
ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI (Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)), Jonathan J. Tarbox (Autism Research Group, Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)), Angela M. Persicke (Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD))
Abstract: There has been a considerable explosion of research on perspective taking, much of it coming from the Theory of Mind (ToM) literature which has shown many children with autism have difficulty understanding and inferring the private events of others. More recently, behavioral researchers have begun investigating methods for teaching perspective-taking skills, and Relational Frame Theory (RFT) has been used to develop a behavioral process account of perspective taking. This presentation will provide a review of behavioral research in the area of perspective taking and discuss directions for future research.
Not Feeling the Love: The Limitations of Behavioral Research on Empathy
ANGELA M. PERSICKE (Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)), Jonathan J. Tarbox (Autism Research Group, Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD))
Abstract: Empathy is often referred to in mainstream psychology as the vicarious affective experience between two or more people resulting in one person directly experiencing the emotional state of the other person. Enhanced empathic responding has been shown to be highly correlated with important prosocial behaviors, such as offering help, sharing, volunteering, and other altruistic behaviors. The behavioral literature has paid little attention to understanding empathic responding as a behavioral phenomenon and functionally analyzing the behavioral mechanisms involved. Behavioral research on enhancing empathy has primarily focused on overt topographies of behavior without consideration of the emotion-sharing component of empathy. This presentation will review the strengths and limitations of research on empathy. Following, implications and future directions will be discussed.



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