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 Panel #140
Behavioral Economics and Public Policy: A Panel With Discussion
Saturday, May 26, 2018
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, San Diego Ballroom B
Area: SCI; Domain: Theory
Chair: Matthew W. Johnson (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
CE Instructor: Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.
Panelists: MIKHAIL KOFFARNUS (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute), SUZANNE H. MITCHELL (Oregon Health & Science University), BETHANY R. RAIFF (Rowan University)

This session is coupled with, and immediately follows, a SQAB tutorial on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy presented by Dr. Steven Hursh. Panelists will be asked to speak briefly about their research program and to bring questions designed to foster discussion with audience members. The goal is to generate ideas and collaborative efforts among basic, translational, and applied scientists. The tutorial and panel discussion has arisen because the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior (SQAB), an organization that emphasizes fundamental sciences related to behavior analysis, meets immediately before ABAI. The tandem meetings of these two organizations present opportunities for attendees to hear about core sciences related to behavior analysis. The SQAB tutorials have provided an excellent spur for such discussions but we (SQAB and ABAI's Science Board) wish to take this a step further. This panel discussion, which represents a partnership between SQAB and ABAI, will create a setting in which basic and applied scientists, as well as practitioners, can meet to discuss applications of the topics raised in a SQAB tutorial.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe behavioral economic principles; (2) link basic behavioral economic ideas to practical solutions; (3) provide examples of behavioral economic solutions to policy-level concerns.
MIKHAIL KOFFARNUS (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)
Mikhail Koffarnus received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is currently a Research Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Dr. Koffarnus' research focuses on understanding drug abuse and developing drug abuse treatments from a behavioral economic perspective. Decision-making processes are often disrupted in drug users, leading to a systematic preference for immediately available rewards like drugs over delayed rewards like improved health or gainful employment. His active areas of research aim to understand and counteract this pattern, and include the use of technology to facilitate contingency management interventions, the neural correlates of risky and impulsive decision making, and the abuse liability of cigarettes and other nicotine products. Additionally, he has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
SUZANNE H. MITCHELL (Oregon Health & Science University)
Suzanne H. Mitchell, Ph.D., is a Professor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, with secondary appointments in Psychiatry and in the Oregon Institute for Occupational health Science. She obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at the University of Hull, England and her Ph.D. at SUNY-Stony Brook, USA. Her dissertation focused on the economics of foraging behavior of rats, examining the role of the energetic costs and benefits in feeding. Her committee was chaired by Howard Rachlin, whose influence made her sensitive to the role of temporal costs as well as energetic costs in determining the value of food rewards. During a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, Dr. Mitchell worked with Harriet de Wit, Ph.D. using behavioral economics as an explanation for use of alcohol, nicotine/cigarettes, and amphetamine in humans. During that time she also began collaborating with Jerry Richards, Ph.D. on delay discounting studies with rats. Following her postdoctoral work, Dr. Mitchell was an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire, where she continued to explore recreational drug use using behavioral economic models. She moved her lab to OHSU in 2001 from the University of New Hampshire to devote more time to research, particularly looking into why drug users tend to be more impulsive than non-drug users using human and animal models. Most recently she has returned to her earlier interests in energetic costs and her research has increased its scope to include effort-related decision-making in clinical populations. She has received funding from various NIH institutes (NHLBI, NIAAA, NIDA and NIH), has served on several study sections as a member and as an ad hoc participant, and has received awards for education and mentoring.
BETHANY R. RAIFF (Rowan University)
Dr. Raiff graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 with her PhD in Psychology, with an emphasis in Behavioral Pharmacology. She worked as a principal investigator for four years at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. before moving to the Department of Psychology at Rowan University, where she is now an Associate Professor. Dr. Raiff's primary research interests include developing and evaluating the integration of technological innovations with behavioral economic interventions for promoting healthy behavior. Dr. Raiff is currently developing two video games which use a contingency management intervention with nonmonetary incentives to encourage people to quit smoking. In addition to her work on smoking cessation, Dr. Raiff has also evaluated technology-delivered behavioral interventions for improving diabetes management and physical activity. Dr. Raiff was the 2015 recipient of the B. F. Skinner New Researcher Award for Applied Research, from Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. She holds a vested interest in developing cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable treatments, using the principles of behavioral economics, to address many of society’s unhealthy behaviors.



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