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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Paper Session #527
Behavior Analysis of Art and Creativity
Monday, May 27, 2019
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD South
Area: VRB
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Grayson Butcher (University of North Texas)
On the Distinction Between Arts and Crafts: An Abstract Tact Analysis
Domain: Theory
MAASA NISHIMUTA (University of North Texas), T. V. Joe Layng (Generategy, LLC)
Abstract: We may marvel at both the creativity and quality of work in a piece of pottery or a sculpture, or of a well played basketball game or well acted play. While each may have similarities, and each may have instances or what might be called creativity, one is often considered art, while the other a craft. This paper will explore what may be guiding the abstract tact “art” and the abstract tact “craft.” The critical features of each as well as the varying features will be described, compared, and contrasted. The consequences governing the creation or performance of each, and the effect of the work on the audience will form the basis of the analysis. In the process it will be demonstrated how a consequential contingency analysis of verbal behavior may contribute to understanding art, craft, and their creation and appreciation.
Metaphorical Extension in Instances of Creation: Is There Really a Difference Between Art and Science?
Domain: Theory
GRAYSON BUTCHER (University of North Texas), T. V. Joe Layng (Generategy, LLC)
Abstract: In his book Science and Human Values, Jacob Bronowski argues that the act of creation is fundamentally the same in both the sciences and the arts. They differ not in terms of process, but in terms of outcomes. That is, the art that is created is judged by an audience, it either succeeds or fails accordingly. The science created is not typically so judged, but instead must meet criteria of verification or falsifiability, in essence science is self-corrective, whereas art is not. Bronowski claims metaphorical extension is essential to the creative process for both art and science and plays a significant role in our understanding of creative insight. But are they the same, and does metaphorical extension play the same role in each? This paper will attempt to answer this question drawing upon Skinner’s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior, Goldiamond’s description of the distinction between dimensional and abstraction stimulus control, and new distinctions that separate metaphorical tacts from metaphorical mands.
Creativity as a Language Game: Implications for Behavior Analysts
Domain: Theory
SARAH SUMNER (University of North Texas), T. V. Joe Layng (Generategy, LLC)
Abstract: In his work Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein argues that our language is only clearly communicated by agreement in definitions and judgments. He takes issue with attempts to understand terms such as now, beauty, and truth— as representations of individuals or states of the world. Instead, he suggests that the meanings of such words are found in their use by the verbal community. And further, their use may somewhat change from instance to instance, which makes the debate about their essence, essential properties, or definition futile. He instead suggests that each use has a set of “family resemblances,” that is, the uses may share some, but not all features with one another. The word is part of a language game that has identifiable consequences for its participants. We suggest the same may be true for the study of creativity. Instead of searching for “creativity,” or how to make one more creative— behavioral investigators may find it more productive to investigate the language game of which the term “creative” is a part, and perhaps determine the criteria and consequences for asserting a creative act occurred and why it is considered important.
The Act of Creation and the Knowing of the Artist
Domain: Theory
LEAH HERZOG (University of North Texas), T. V. Joe Layng (Generategy, LLC)
Abstract: In Science and Human Behavior (1953), B. F. Skinner described some of the contingencies that may act to maintain an artist’s behavior while creating a work of art. Though matching to a model may seem a likely candidate, adherence to photorealistic reproduction may not be the goal. Instead, the effect on an audience, which includes the artist, may be a critical reinforcer. But what about the work that evolves during its creation? Brush strokes, sculpting, building, etc. produces stimuli whose arrangement may have reinforcing properties for the artist’s behavior. Art may be the arrangement of stimuli that serve as reinforcers for the artist’s behavior. To the extent others find the arrangement reinforcing, the artist has “achieved” a certain universality. But what of the meaning of the art? The answer may lie in the instructional/abstractional stimulus control (after Goldiamond, 1966) occasioned by the arrangement, not in the dimensional stimulus control. In short, the instructional control may be considered a form of “metaphorical mand.” This presentation will describe how, in a sense, we can come to know the artist. As Skinner (1957, p. 95) noted, “…metaphorical responses have been acquired under other circumstances, about which inferences may therefore be made.”



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