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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #454
Constructional Approaches to Emotions and Emotional Behavior
Monday, May 30, 2022
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 156C
Area: PCH/EAB; Domain: Theory
Chair: Ian Burruss (Advanced Behavioral Care)

Common interpretations of emotions include attributing causal relationships between the occurrence of emotions and behavior. Meaning that either behavior causes emotions or emotions cause behavior. This interpretation leaves out consideration of the impact of contingencies on behavior and emotions. A purely contingency analytic account of emotions and emotional behavior provides an alternative to previous accounts of emotions. This account, the Goldiamond-Layng Theory, rejects the notion that emotions are either causes of or caused by behavior. Rather, emotions are conceptualized as tacts that describe consequential contingency arrangements (Layng, 2017). This account is also consistent with recent neuroscience findings that suggest the absence of a neurological fingerprint for what is felt (Feldman-Barrett, 2017). These presentations will present a contingency analysis of emotions across human and animal examples.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Constructional Approach, Contingency Analysis, Emotional Behavior, Emotions

Toward a Hierarchical Taxonomy for the Affective Domain

PAUL THOMAS ANDRONIS (Northern Michigan University)

Instructional design and the learning sciences in general benefited greatly from the creation of a taxonomy of learning based on the initial work of Bloom, Gagne, and Markle and Tiemann. This taxonomy covered hierarchical classes of learning outcomes in the psychomotor, simple cognitive, and complex cognitive domains. Underlying these taxa was an implied similar hierarchy encompassing the so-called affective domain, or collateral emotional responses tied to the learned psychomotor/cognitive repertoires (including attitudes toward learning, values, and so on). Despite the intimation that the affective domain was influenced by the conditions arranged for the various classes of psychomotor and cognitive learning, there has yet to be formulated an explicit taxonomy for the affective domain that parallels the one for more traditional outcomes of learning. The present paper proposes a taxonomy for the affective domain that treats affect as verbal behavior, systematically differentiates simple emotional/affective responses, as components of more complex forms of affect, and relates these various components and composites to the emotional contingencies that occasion them in the first place, and to the verbal contingencies that control affect as the “public face” of emotions.


Teaching Emotions: An Update on an Instruction Design Component Analysis Approach

ANNA LINNEHAN (Endicott College)

The Goldiamond-Layng Theory conceptualizes emotions as a type of tact that describes different arrangements of consequential contingencies. The differences in emotions felt reflect differences in contingencies. Many programs for teaching children with autism to tact emotions train learners to recognize facial features (Baron-Cohen et. al, 2009). Learners may learn to label a picture of a face with a common expression, such as a smile as happy, representing simple paired associate learning and not an indication that learners understand the contingencies. A different approach utilizes an instructional design component analysis to identify attributes and rational sets of teaching examples and non-examples (Layng, 2019; Markle & Tiemann, 1969) of the contingencies described by certain emotions. Rational sets including matched example/non-examples pairs were presented to learners to develop a program to teach children emotion word tacts for fear and anger and the corresponding contingencies. Data will be presented utilizing a control analysis (test-revise-test) strategy (Sidman & Stoddard, 1966; Goldiamond & Thompson 1967, 2002) to assess variability of a programmed instruction approach. Implications for transference of stimulus control from the program to the learner via metaphorical extension “perspective taking” will also be discussed.

Unlocking Happiness: A Contingency Analysis of Emotions From Dogs' Perspective
SEAN MICHAEL WILL (Constructional Approach to Animal Welfare and Training), Maasa Nishimuta (Constructional Approach to Animal Welfare and Training)
Abstract: The radical behavior-analytic interpretation of emotions as private events that describe contingencies can help us make sense of an entire class of behaviors untouchable by most other approaches. This presentation will explore a method to help dogs transition from fierce or fearful to friendly and how the dog's emotions track the changing contingencies presented during training. Furthermore, we will discuss the benefits of adopting this approach, including improved welfare, mutually enjoyable relationships, and more!



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