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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #399

Don Baer Lecture: Simple Is Better: Helping Ordinary People Apply Behavior Science

Monday, May 28, 2018
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Grand Ballroom 7-9
Area: PRA; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Carl V. Binder, Ph.D.
Chair: Robert K. Ross (Beacon ABA Services)
CARL V. BINDER (The Performance Thinking Network, LLC)
Dr. Carl Binder is CEO of The Performance Thinking Network, LLC, where he develops performance consultants, leaders and managers in organizations worldwide. Starting in 1970 as a student with B.F. Skinner at Harvard, he worked for ten years in B.H. Barrett's Behavior Prosthesis Lab, conducting laboratory and classroom research and training teachers. An early contributor to Precision Teaching, he was mentored by Ogden Lindsley and Eric Haughton. In 1982, he founded his first consulting firm, Precision Teaching and Management Systems, Inc., and became active in the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) where his mentors included Tom Gilbert, Joe Harless, Robert Horn and Donald Tosti. He founded Product Knowledge Systems, Inc., a Boston consulting firm specializing in sales enablement for Global 1000 companies. Carl is currently known for Six Boxes Performance Thinking, a plain English viral approach to organizational performance improvement. APA Division 25 honored Carl with the Fred S. Keller Award (2004), ISPI recognized his contributions to performance improvement with Honorary Lifetime Membership (2009) and the Thomas F. Gilbert Award (2012), and the OBM Network gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award (2015). Contact Carl at and learn more about his work at and

As with scientists and technicians in many fields, we applied behavior scientists use precise language and we value our language highly. In addition, we often value detail and complexity because they illustrate the depth of our analysis of behavior and of the variables that influence it. But when we attempt to engage clients, parents, colleagues in other disciplines, and others not schooled in our science, our language and the complexity of our analyses and models often become barriers. We must not be simplistic in our communication with others, but we need to learn how to be simple. We can accelerate our impact by using language, models, and concepts that make sense to ordinary people and are relatively intuitive for them. We want people to "get it," and simplicity can help. Carl Binder has spent the 47 years since he first studied with B.F. Skinner learning from masters in the field of behavior science and performance engineering, and attempting to pass on what he learns to others. He has consulted with, trained and coached educators, parents, clients, business people, training and process professionals, and others not schooled in behavior science. In this lecture he will trace a path from Skinner's elegant measurement technology through his own work in precision teaching, behavioral fluency, sales and marketing enablement, organizational performance consulting, leadership and management, and talent development with examples of how simplicity and plain language have enabled "viral" diffusion of models and methods in organizations and communities. Key takeaways will include the forewarning that things get complicated before they get simple, and that we need to develop intermediate vocabularies that link our science with the vocabularies and experience of ordinary people who can benefit from what we can provide.

Target Audience:

Anyone who communicates about our science or application to people outside our field.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe how jargon and complexity in our models and language interfere with our effectiveness; (2) cite examples of models and language that communicate simply without being simplistic; (3) explain how and why the term fluency was adopted by Binder and his colleagues who were early Precision Teachers; (4) describe the two models of Binders Six Boxes Performance Thinking approach to performance improvement.



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