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 #264
CE Offered: BACB
Moving our Science Forward: Understanding and Correcting Misconceptions of Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 29, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 203
Area: TBA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: James W. Diller (Eastern Connecticut State University)
Discussant: Kelly M. Banna (Millersville University of Pennsylvania)
CE Instructor: Christopher A Krebs, Ph.D.

Behavior analysis is unfamiliar to most people outside of autism and even those who have heard about behavior analysis often have beliefs that run contrary to known evidence. Misconceptions in science are not unique to behavior analysis, but they do limit the ability of our field to address issues of social significance and become more mainstream. The overarching goal of this symposium is to generate insight and discussion on strategies that can be used to improve dissemination, training, and support of current and future behavior analysts for the many current and future challenges to our field. The first presentation describes a study that evaluated perceptions of behavior analysis by undergraduate students by comparing their ideas and interest about the discipline at the beginning and end of an introductory principles of learning course. The second presentation describes a study that examined the qualitative experiences of behavior analysts before, during, and after their training in effort to identify practitioner-endorsed and actionable behaviors analysts can engage in when facing misconceptions in the field.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify some common misconceptions of behavior analysis; (2) Describe the 5 main behaviors associated with addressing misconceptions (e.g., Listen, Ask questions, Determine misconceptions, Engage, and Reflect and evaluate); (3) Identify effective strategies for engaging an audience to counter misconceptions in real-time.
Perceptions of Behavior Analysis by Undergraduate Students
CHRISTOPHER A KREBS (Eastern Connecticut State University), James W. Diller (Eastern Connecticut State University), Christina A. Alligood (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Introductory undergraduate courses are often the first point of contact a student has with an area of inquiry. Perceptions about a field can influence the likelihood that students will pursue additional education or a career in that area and undergraduate psychology students are more likely to have misconceptions of behavior analysis compared to master’s students and teachers in university colleges (Arntzen et al., 2010). This presentation describes a study that evaluated perceptions of behavior analysis by undergraduate students at two different universities by comparing their ideas and interest about the discipline at the beginning and at the end of an introductory principles of learning course. The introductory course corrected several misconceptions and increased interest in behavior analysis. Discussion of these results will focus on identifying strategies that instructors can use to improve instruction and better market behavior analysis.
Using the Experiences of Current Analysts to Support Addressing Common Misconceptions in Applied Behavior Analysis
JUSTIN N COY (University of Pittsburgh), Olivia Grace Enders (University of Pittsburgh), Douglas E. Kostewicz (University of Pittsburgh)
Abstract: Misconceptions have impacted the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) since its inception. In conference presentations and manuscripts, researchers have focused on highlighting such misconceptions and their potential sources. However, very little empirical work has surveyed and allowed the on-the-ground professionals to offer their professional input regarding how best to disseminate our science in the face of these fallacies. We present a process tool designed to support the effective communication of ABA based on the reported lived experiences of behavior analysts. LADER (Listen, Ask Questions, Determine misconception, Engage, and Reflect and evaluate) provides a scaffolded approach to support behavior analytic professionals navigating the potential challenges of addressing others’ misconceptions of ABA in real-time. Engaging analysts to address misconceptions is a professional skill taught, developed, and shaped over time. The LADER tool can thus inform training of both students and practitioners.



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