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

Previous Page


Symposium #353
CE Offered: BACB
21st Century Perspectives on Teaching Behavior Analysis in Introductory Psychology
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
205 (CC)
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Stephanie P. da Silva (Columbus State University)
Discussant: Philip N. Hineline (Temple University - Emeritus)
CE Instructor: Henry D. Schlinger, Ph.D.

The purpose of this symposium is to present different perspectives on teaching behavior analysis in introductory psychology classes. The two papers will discuss ways to approach the teaching of behavior analysis to introductory psychology students, including elucidating certain advances in behavior analysis that may not be well known and that may be pique students' interest, and ways to teach critical thinking skills (i.e., a verbal repertoire) that will lead students more naturally to an appreciation of, if not affinity for, behavior analysis.

Operant Psychology for Introductory Psychology: Teaching Behavior Analysis in the Post-Skinner Era
EDWARD K. MORRIS (The University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: In the United States and Canada, introductory psychology courses enroll nearly two million students a year, second only to English composition. They are, thus, unsurpassed in their potential to influence our understanding of human behavior. Achieving this potential, though, is a challenge. Psychology encompasses contrasting philosophies, conflicting systems, and divergent sciences. In addition, its literature is expanding so quickly that staying current with it is another challenge. This paper amends and updates advances in behavior analysis to assist instructors of introductory psychology courses and authors of introductory psychology textbooks stay current with the field, especially advances that are likely to pique student interest (e.g., behavior analysis in space, private events). We begin by reviewing the introductory psychology textbook coverage of operant psychology and place operant psychology in the context of behavior analysis more broadly. Following that, we address advances in three eras that have yet to inform the teaching of introductory psychology: Skinner’s era (1930-1960), the post-Skinner era in his time (1960-1990), and the post-Skinner era since his passing (1990-present). In each era, we address topics in basic and applied research and conceptual foundations. We conclude by relating some behavior-analytic contributions to teaching introductory psychology.
Teaching a Behavioral Approach in an Introductory Psychology Class Without Explicitly Doing So
HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)
Abstract: Behavior analysts who teach introductory psychology courses may be frustrated by having to teach standard psychological approaches to such topics as sensation and perception, consciousness, memory, cognition and language, intelligence, motivation and emotion, and social psychology. In this talk, I describe the approach I take in my introductory psychology class in which I teach students a set of verbal skills that help them not only think critically about evaluating evidence for claims about behavior, which many introductory texts do, but about psychology itself. For example, I teach students about observation as the hallmark of science, and about parsimonious (and circular) explanations, and then have them apply those concepts to standard topics in psychology. The result, I hope, is that without necessarily teaching about behavior analysis per se, except for the chapter on learning, students will naturally find it a more attractive alternative than nominal psychology.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh