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 #347
Artistic Communication and Expression: A Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
007B (CC)
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)

This symposium was organized by the Behavior Analysis and the Arts Special Interest Group. It will include presentations by leading behavior analysts who are known for structural, functional, and/or theoretical analyses of equivalence classes and class formation, transfer and transformation of functions, and other behavior that emerges without direct conditioning (derived relations). Fields will present an analysis of artistic categories that focuses on generalized equivalence classes, function transfer among class members, and linked perceptual classes. For example, he will suggest how such classes allow people to recognize that the same artist produced different paintings and how paintings by different artists can be classified within the same style of artistic expression. De Rose will also focus on derived relations, framing a contribution of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges as a quasi-behavioral analysis of inter- and intra-individual variability in art appreciation. McIlvane will also consider behavioral variability in expression and appreciation of art. He will present a quasi-theoretic analysis that emphasizes variability of stimulus control and reinforcement relations across different consumers of artwork and also within the same individual at different times. All presenters will address how behavior analyses of the arts can be useful in educating students about both areas.

Keyword(s): artistic behavior

The Formation Of Artistic Categories: A Generalized Equivalence Class Analysis

ANTONIOS VARELAS (Hostos Community College, City University of New York), Lanny Fields (Queens College, City University of New York)

The paintings of a given artist and its related information will be viewed through the lens of generalized equivalence classes, function transfer among class members, and linked perceptual classes. The picture produced by a given artist (A), its’ name (B), the artist’s name (C), the era represented by the painting (D), and a defining characteristics of the painting (E) can be viewed as the members of the to-be-formed ABCDE equivalence class. Once formed, all of them will have become related to each other, and a student should then state the era, artist’s name, and characteristic of the painting, on request and without direct training, showing the transfer of informational function among the members of the art-based equivalence class. Also, new paintings by the same artist (A’) should be identified as such, along with paintings from the same era by different artists (X’), without direct training. Some of these outcomes will be illustrated with data obtained from undergraduates majoring in Psychology. Finally, sometimes two sets of works by the same artist are not recognized as being by that artist. The two can become related by forming a linked perceptual class with them. Art-based education by equivalence-based-instruction will be considered.

Derived Relations And Meaning In Responding To Art
JULIO C. DE ROSE (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)
Abstract: Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges may have come closer than anyone else to envisioning a radical behavioristic aesthetics. Borges emphasized the response to the work of art and, since the response varies with the individual history, he suggested that an artwork is not a unified entity. Don Quixote, for instance, is a completely different book for the reader of the XXI Century than it was for a reader of Cervantes’ time; it may be considered, indeed, a different book for each different reader and even for the same reader at each different time it is read. The same happens with music, paintings, theater, and so forth. Each person that comes into contact with a work of art has a different history with the work and its elements. An essential feature of this history is the network of derived relations involving the elements of the artwork, and the transfer or transformation of meaning and emotional functions across this network.
Artistic Expression and Appreciation: A Contingency Coherence Analysis
WILLIAM J. MCILVANE (University of Massachusetts Medical School), Joanne Kledaras (Praxis, Inc.)
Abstract: There is great variability across and even within individuals in how various forms of artwork are appreciated. For example, any one highly respected critic may consider a new film to be worthy of Oscar consideration whereas another equally respected critic may perceive the film as superficial and lacking in artistic merit. Years later, the former critic may have changed his/her opinion, viewing the film more negatively while the latter may have discovered merit that s/he missed initially. Our presentation will discuss sources of variability in artistic expression and appreciation in terms of basic stimulus control and reinforcement processes organized within a contingency coherence framework. This quasi-theoretical analysis accounts for inter- and intra-personal variability in terms of discriminability, primarily but not exclusively within stimulus dimensions. Further, we will suggest that analogies to variability in art appreciation may be useful for conveying key elements of contingency coherence theory to those who are unfamiliar with its tenets.



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