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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #532
Developments of Highest Behavioral Developmental Stages in the Model of Hierarchical Complexity
Monday, May 27, 2019
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, Montreux 1-3
Area: DEV/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Simran Trisal Malhotra (Dare Association)

This symposium presents developments in the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC) and what underlies the order of tasks corresponding to stages of development. The MHC is a neo-Piagetian, non-mentalistic model of developmental stages based on the hierarchical complexity of a behavioral task. A task at a higher order of complexity: 1) is defined in terms of two or more tasks at the next lower order of Hierarchical Complexity; 2) the higher order task organizes the less complex actions from the adjacent lower order actions; and 3) the lower order tasks have to be carried out non-arbitrarily. An individual is said to “be” at a developmental stage when they successfully solve the task of that order. The first paper discusses the Paradigmatic Stage 14, defined in terms of two metasystems forming a new paradigm and the Cross-Paradigmatic Stage 15, defined with actions that fit paradigms together to form new fields to reflect a coherent set of assumptions. The second paper identifies the Meta-Cross-Paradigmatic Stage 16 as the mapping and coordination of two cross-paradigms. The third paper introduces the existence of stage 17 with discussions on the continuation of stage sequence and the future of advanced stage development.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): behavioral-developmental stages, MHC, quantitative BA, stage development
The Paradigmatic and the Cross-Paradigmatic Orders and Stages of the Model of Hierarchical Complexity
Cory Barker (Antioch University), PATRICE MARIE MILLER (Salem State University)
Abstract: At the Paradigmatic Stage 14, one understands the impossibility of making metasystems (stage 13) work because there are too many considerations that make the metasystems either inconsistent or incomplete. Paradigmatic actions fit metasystems together to form new paradigms. Such actions work with the relationship between very large and often disparate bodies of knowledge in order to reflect on, compare, contrast, transform, and synthesize multiple principles and metasystems. In a domain, the transition into the paradigmatic stage may happen if the highest stage task is showing that metasystems are incomplete and adding to them creates inconsistencies. No further stages in that domain on that sequence are then possible (Sonnert & Commons, 1994). Similarly, a cross-paradigm is a systematized set of relations among paradigms that reflects a coherent set of assumptions. Cross-paradigmatic actions of order 15 fit paradigms together to form new fields. They form new fields by crossing paradigms or integrating paradigms into a new field or profoundly transforming an old paradigm. This coordination of Stage 14 paradigms may also be done in order to show it is impossible to coordinate such paradigms, hence the development of the cross-paradigmatic stage 15. The paper presents definitions, descriptions, and applications for the two orders and corresponding stages.

The Meta-Cross-Paradigmatic Order and Stage 16

Olivia Kjorlien (Harvard University), WILLIAM JOSEPH HARRIGAN (Harvard Extension School), Michael Commons (Harvard Medical School)

The Model of Hierarchical Complexity has identified orders and their corresponding stages through Order 16. There are examples, descriptions, and definitions of the Orders of Hierarchical Complexity through Order 15. Any order of complexity, n, operates on tasks performed at the n-1 order of complexity by coordinating them. By this logic, if cross-paradigms from Order 15 are coordinated, Order 16 is formed. Therefore, Stage 16 must exist and it can be named and defined. To date, the discourse provides empirical evidence for Order 16. For example – no cross paradigmatic solution works, they are either incomplete or inconsistent. Quarks are bound together by particles, as the universe expands, do protons and electrons fall apart? However, Stage 16 has now been named and defined as The Meta-Cross-Paradigmatic Order 16. This paper discusses examples for this order and corresponding stage. In particular, examples that map Order 15 paradigms of Physical Science and Order 15 Behavioral Science onto one another.

The Ultra Meta-Cross-Paradigmatic Order and Stage 17
MICHAEL MARIE COMMONS (Harvard Medical School)
Abstract: Behavior can be analyzed by the difficulty of tasks that an individual successfully addresses and the Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC) attempts to score these tasks into behavioral-developmental stages. Following Dawn Ellen Schrader’s Law (1990), in order to score a stage, one has to be one stage higher than the stage one is scoring. Commons and Kjorlien (2017) explain the characteristics of the Meta-Cross-Paradigmatic Stage 16, showing the problems with the Cross-Paradigmatic Stage 15. It suggested a solution. In order to come up with the scoring and properties of Stage 16, Commons, hence, has to be operating at Stage 17. This paper is an introduction to explaining the transition from Stage 16 to the Ultra Meta-Cross-Paradigmatic Stage 17. With this, there is hope to have further knowledge about stage 17, as its existence has now shown. The development of a higher stage is imminent because Stage 16 fails as we do not know what questions to ask and what phenomena to observe. This paper also discusses the critical question about if the stage sequence will ever end and the future of advanced MHC stage developments.



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