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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Paper Session #409
Diversity submission Response to Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis' Statement of Concern on Rekers and Lovaas (1974)
Monday, May 31, 2021
11:30 AM–11:55 AM
Area: CSS
Chair: Austin Hunter Johnson (University of California, Riverside)
Diversity submission 

Response to Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis' Statement of Concern on Rekers and Lovaas (1974)

Domain: Theory
AUSTIN HUNTER JOHNSON (University of California, Riverside)

In 1974, Rekers and Lovaas published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis wherein the authors instructed a gender-non-conforming child’s parents to punish that child when they engaged in gender-non-conforming behaviors. In 2020, the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis’ editor-in-chief published a Statement of Concern regarding Rekers and Lovaas (1974), which provided justification for the journal’s decision to not retract this paper. In this paper presentation, I describe criticisms of the rationale for not retracting this paper. I note that the criteria used to determine retraction were not applied in the manner suggested by official retraction guidelines. I describe contemporaneous criticisms of the Rekers and Lovaas paper which were written by a set of authors that included foundational figures in applied behavior analysis. I describe the active discussion within the psychological sciences in the early 1970s to depathologize homosexuality. I criticize the Statement of Concern’s focus on damage to the field as opposed to the harm done to the child, and question errors of commission and omission made in the Statement of Concern. I end with an argument that Rekers and Lovaas (1974) should be retracted.




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