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 #146
CE Offered: BACB
Bring Out the Big Guns: Influencing Large-Scale Change with Behavior Science
Sunday, May 24, 2015
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
007C (CC)
Area: TPC/CSE; Domain: Theory
Chair: Tara M. Grant (Saint Louis University)
Discussant: Anthony Biglan (Oregon Research Institute)
CE Instructor: Tara M. Grant, M.S.

Global threatening events, including overconsumption of material goods, toxic human societies, and modern warfare are seemingly amenable to systematic change through a behavior analytical approach. An analysis of the systems within which large-scale cultural phenomena are selected for perpetuation is an alluring area of research for behavior analysts. This symposium will detail the conceptual underpinnings of an effective science of intentional cultural change. A historical summary and interpretation of large-scale implementation of behavior analysis will be provided for consideration and resources for further pursuit of knowledge will be provided. Researchers will present descriptive analyses of metacontingencies influencing the aggregate products of rates of safe driving and child welfare outcomes in Brazil. The challenges behavior analysts face when developing valid approaches to the experimental analysis of cultural change will be outlined and recommendations for future explorations will be presented.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): large-scale change, metacontingency, selecting systems, social policy
Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, practitioners, and graduate students.

Learning Objectives: Forthcoming

A Brief History of Large-Scale Behavior Analysis

RYAN LEE O'DONNELL (Brohavior), Lea June (Brohavior)

Students of behavior analysis contact few opportunities to acquire knowledge surrounding the history of the field of large-scale behavior analysis. This gap in the students repertoire may be the result of few standards in place within the overarching teaching institutions and certification systems that target this particular skill set. As a result, students of behavior analysis are often left on their own to not only learn the history of the field of large-scale behavior analysis, but to also identify available resources. We have found that individuals who successfully contact this information come to find the value in historical knowledge of such behavioral approaches to examining large-scale behavioral phenomena. The aim of this presentation is to provide a quick review of the history and resources available to the behavioral neophytes who are interested in learning more about the history of large-scale behavior analysis.

Break it Down, Splice it, Dice it, and Then Zoom Out.
TARA M. GRANT (Brohavior), Dominique Stedham (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: As cultural practices of multiple individuals have outcomes of their own, a behavioral account of culture cannot be conducted by examining the behavior of individuals (i.e., aggregate products; Glenn, 1988, Malott et al., 2006). In order to resolve this issue, the concept of metacontingency has been submitted as a unit of analysis of cultural selection. A metacontingency is comprised of aggregate products that are the observable events resulting from interlocking behavior of two or more individuals. With metacontingencies as the unit of analysis aggregate products tend to be measured as the dependent variable in most empirical investigations of cultural pheonmena; as such, aggregate products remain the focus of cultural interventions. We propose that an effective analysis of behavior on a cultural-level includes deliberate delineations between individual and group behavior. We will discuss the implications of a reductionist approach to analyzing the interlocking behaviors among individual organisms, by emphasizing the integral role selecting systems play in a cultural analysis. We submit a description of methodology that adheres to a conceptually systematic analysis of cultural behavior.
A Cultural Behavior Analysis of Social Policy Change
ROBERTA LEMOS (Universidade de Brasilia ), Joao Claudio Todorov (Universidade de Brasilia)
Abstract: The behavior analysis of cultural practices using field observations is a potential method to describe the people's behaviors in groups. Metacontingencies (i.e., interlocking behavioral contingencies leading to aggregate products selected by cultural environment consequences) and macrobehaviors (i.e., multiple independent behavioral contingencies producing a cumulative social effect) can be observed in a large set of data from public organizations involved in the public policy making process. This study discusses two settings that do not require manipulated
experimentation where such metacontingencies and macrobehaviors are observed: (1) the legal setting under which formal control is established and (2) the public arena under which natural experiments occurs. First, we present an analysis of legal texts designed to protect children and adolescents in Brazil and official records of the judiciary system dealing with children and adolescents in Brasília, Brazil. Second, we explore examples such as the reconstitution of behavioral processes that changed the cultural practices of drivers and pedestrians in Brasília, Brazil and the Brazilian conditional cash transfer program called Bolsa Família. The study of public policy-making practices as a means to understand cultural practices is a promising area of behavioral research
Experimental Analyses of Behavioral Strategies to Influence the Adoption of Effective Social Policies
ANTHONY BIGLAN (Oregon Research Institute)
Abstract: Presently, gaps in a conceptually systematic methodology for an analysis of cultural, large-scale behavior may lead to substantial challenges to conducting empirically validated work focused on cultural change. Behavior analysts have identified what appear to be some fairly useful concepts supporting a functional contextual analysis of the actions of groups and organizations. These concepts also consider the behavior of individuals within the organizations of concern. However, very little empirical research has been forthcoming. This presentation will focus on the issues inherent to the present methodology and suggest a line of work involving the experimental analysis of strategies that increase the probability of effective social-policies being adopted and carried out in a systematic manner. Social policies that select aggregate products, such as increases in measures of wellbeing, for perpetuation seem pivotal to achieving the change in organizational practices that are needed to have significant impact on the wellbeing of entire populations.



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