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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Paper Session #448
Aesthetics, Animations, and Action!
Monday, May 28, 2018
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Grand Ballroom 10-13
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Francis Mechner (The Mechner Foundation)
Aesthetics and the Biological Roots of Non-Primary Reinforcers
Domain: Theory
FRANCIS MECHNER (The Mechner Foundation)
Abstract: There are certain activities via which humans control events that have biological significance for the individual and/or the group: Learning—acquiring skills, knowledge, and competencies that enhance mastery of such events Prevailing—achieving mastery of situations, winning fights or contests Implementing—achieving desired results via the use of tools, vehicles, or weapons. Escaping—getting out of situations that are aversive or dangerous Accumulating—gathering and storing food, assets, and other useful items. Loving other beings—protecting them, providing for their welfare, partnering for procreation Social interaction—engaging in activities that promote the group’s welfare and cohesion The biological utility of these activities is based on their direct or indirect effect on the survival of the individual and/or the group. This biological utility provided the basis for the evolutionary selection of susceptibility to reinforcement by these activities and their consequences. An elaborate network of emotional reactions provides the infrastructure of this susceptibility. The particular adjective that describes each type of reaction— “aesthetic,” “beautiful,” “elegant,” “delicious,” “awesome”—depends on the discipline involved and the verbal community or culture. The evolutionary outcome of this evolutionary selection process is a category of reinforcers different from those related to primary physical needs such as food.
Animating the Evolution of the Skinner Box: Challenges in Visualizing Scientific Method
Domain: Theory
Abstract: B.F. Skinner’s invention of the operant chamber is described by Skinner and others in several different books and papers. The accounts vary and are often self-aware of that variance. In the somewhat tongue-in-cheek “A Case History in Scientific Method” (1956) Skinner offers line drawing diagrams of the stages of development up to, but not including, the final apparatus. A photo of the pellet delivery mechanism is included in his autobiography. In this presentation, I will describe the process of creating a CGI animation of the evolution of the Skinner for use in a biographical film about Skinner. The focus will be on the technical challenge of designing and animating the various apparatuses to approximate what Skinner actually built while also usefully illustrating the key principles at play in each stage. The presentation will analyze the draft animations of the failed, abandoned, nonsensical and final CGI models made in the film production, reflecting the variety of perspectives that can be taken in tracing the development of Skinner Box.



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