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.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Invited Symposium #126
CE Offered: BACB
A Class of One: Remembering Murray Sidman, His Contributions, and His Legacy
Saturday, September 3, 2022
3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Area: EAB; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Carol Pilgrim (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Carol Pilgrim, Ph.D.

In a career spanning 60+ years, Murray Sidman’s work has had immeasurable impact on the conceptual, methodological, and empirical make-up of behavior analysis, from its early beginnings and continuing to this day. The papers in this symposium will provide insightful reflections on Sidman’s influence as experienced first-hand by three individuals whose own work and perspectives were shaped directly by his input. Dr. Julio de Rose will address the unequaled role played by Sidman’s Tactics of Scientific Research as foundation for the training and research practices of behavior analysts around the world, and as inspiration for the vibrant status of our science in Brazil. Dr. Paula Braga-Kenyon will speak on Sidman’s landmark experimental and conceptual developments related to stimulus equivalence, with emphasis on the important but thorny implications of his later theoretical treatments. Dr. Bill McIlvane will review Sidman’s comprehensive approach to the study of stimulus control, with particular attention to its many implications and opportunities for research directions yet to be explored. Our discussant, Dr. Per Holth, will offer commentary on the papers in the context of his own career-long relationship with Sidman.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe key contributions to behavior analysis made by Dr. Sidman; (2) Describe the impact of Strategies and Tactics on training and research in behavior-analysis; (3) Describe empirically-inspired developments in Sidman’s conceptualization of stimulus equivalence; (4) Describe still-to-be explored implications of Sidman’s program of study in stimulus control.

Tactics in Brazil

JULIO DE ROSE (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)

Professor Carolina Bori used to teach a course on Tactics at Universidade de São Paulo (USP), in the seventies. I took the Tactics course in my first year as graduate student, in 1973. Students had to read Sidman’s book and participate in discussions about every chapter. USP was, at that time, the major influence on behavior analysis in Brazil, and virtually all students interested in behavior analysis took the Tactics course. Therefore, Tactics became central in the training of Brazilian behavior analysts. Students learned to ask questions to nature, seeking experimental control to reduce variability and find order in their data. In my graduate research, with rats and pigeons, I tried to apply the lessons of Tactics, as many other colleagues did. I met Professor Sidman after my PhD and, at his advice, took a post-doctoral position in the lab he had established at the Shriver Center, near Boston. Sidman no longer had an official position there, but participated in most lab meetings. He then made his first visit to Brazil, for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Tactics. He returned there several other times, now following the steps of Fred Keller and influencing personally the development of Brazilian behavior analysis. Considering Sidman’s deep influence, initially by his book and later in person, it is not surprising that in the recent special issue of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior dedicated to Sidman, eight articles had at least one Brazilian author.

Dr. de Rose was one of the founders of the Research Group on Behavior, Cognition, and Learning, who evolved into the National Institute for Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition, and Learning, of which he is the Research Director. He has conducted research on the analysis of symbolic function and applications to educational, social, and cultural issues. Among his scientific contributions (always collaboration with colleagues and/or students) are pioneering research on the transfer of stimulus functions and equivalence-based instruction (EBI), and on the strength of stimulus relations. He has been also involved in the application of derived relational responding to experimental studies of attitudes, prejudices, and preferences.
Do You Know What I Mean? Murray Sidman’s Contributions to Stimulus Control and Equivalence Relations
PAULA RIBEIRO KENYON (Northeastern University)
Abstract: Dr. Murray Sidman’s contributions to the science of behavior analysis span across many areas, one of which shaped my career. While living in Brazil and taking undergraduate courses during one of his many visits to the country, I was introduced to stimulus control and more specifically, stimulus equivalence. Dr. Sidman treated the stimuli in a class according to the mathematical concept of equivalence such that a class of equivalent stimuli should have the properties of reflexivity, symmetry, and transitivity (i.e., the stimuli in a class should be substitutable). In order to verify this, he designed an experimental methodology that enabled researchers to test each of these three properties of classes of stimuli. In so doing, Dr. Sidman captivated the interest of many Brazilian students and professors, and hence, stimulus control became a strong line of research in Brazil. Later, in 2000, he suggested that equivalence relations consist of all the positive elements that participate in a conditional discrimination. This was an intriguing statement to me. Between 1996 and 2000, while studying towards my graduate degree under Dr. Sidman’s guidance, we initiated research in demonstrating that responses too could become part of equivalence classes. While we produced some very interesting results, Dr. Sidman opted for not publishing the data at that time, and he engaged me in rich discussions on how to separate response from the stimuli it produces. This presentation will discuss the framework of stimulus equivalence and will expand to the inclusion of responses and prompts in equivalence classes.
Dr. Paula Kenyon is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst since 2001. She received a degree in Psychology in 1995 from the Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC/SP), and continued her education leading to a Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2000 from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, followed by a PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2012 from Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts. During her graduate and doctoral work, Dr. Kenyon studied under Professor Murray Sidman and Dr. William Dube. Her research interests include stimulus control and discrimination learning. She currently serves as guest reviewer for a variety of peer-reviewed publications including Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Revista Brasileira de Analise do Comportamento, Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior, European Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Analysis in Practice and Psychological Records. Dr. Kenyon has published in peer reviewed journals with focus in Behavior Analysis (e.g., EJOBA and Psychological Records) as well as journals in other areas (e.g., Nature and Autism Research). With more than 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Kenyon has held numerous academic positions including Adjunct Faculty at both the University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University (NEU) in Boston, where she taught Organizational Behavior Management and Research Designs & Methods courses. Dr. Kenyon is currently an Adjunct Professor at NEU and teaches four BACB-approved courses. Dr. Kenyon’s work experience covers working at non-profit and for-profit organizations and non-public schools. At Spectrum Center for Educational and Behavioral Development, Dr. Kenyon held the position of Educational Coordinator for four years and worked directly with Dr. Ronnie Detrich and Dr. Cynthia Blackledge. Additionally, she worked for over 10 years at The New England Center for Children (NECC) where she held various positions including Program Specialist in the Staff Intensive Unit and Program Director for three residential programs. Dr. Kenyon was also was the assistant to the executive director at Melmark New England and she served as the Chief Clinical Officer for Trumpet Behavioral Health. Dr. Kenyon has been the Chief Clinical Officer for Kadiant since May of 2019.
Some Reflections on the Stimulus Control Research of Murray Sidman
WILLIAM J. MCILVANE (University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Abstract: My presentation will provide an overview of the career contribution of Dr. Murray Sidman to help behavior analysts more fully understand their full range. As one of a small number of doctoral students who trained at the Shriver Center in the 1970s, I participated in the formative stages of his stimulus control research program. While virtually all behavior analysts are familiar with stimulus equivalence research, my own career experience has been that few know about and fewer still appreciate the depth, directions, and implications of his larger program. While the next generation of Shriver behavior analysts continued and expanded upon several of its aspects, our opportunities led us to focus mainly on those pertaining to neurodevelopmental disabilities. Thus, certain key aspects of Sidman’s scientific program did not survive his retirement from Shriver in 1980 and from Northeastern University several years later. My presentation will highlight program development opportunities that (1) were explicit or implicit in Sidman’s larger program and (2) have been underdeveloped or virtually missed. My hope is to inspire revitalization of research in the neglected areas, and I will suggest some strategies and tactics that might help that come to pass.
Dr. Mcllvane has conducted broad research that addresses a variety of scientific problems relevant to understanding and perhaps ameliorating behavior deficits of persons with and without neurodevelopmental disabilities. One area concerns behavioral prerequisites for symbolic communication (speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc.). Research has focused mainly on stimulus equivalence and other relational discriminations and on development of methods to encourage rapid learning of symbolic behaviors (e.g., learning by exclusion). This program has also adapted behavioral neuroscience methods to further understanding of brain processes involved in symbolic behavior. A second focus of Dr. Mcllvane's program is research to develop valid nonverbal neuropsychological test methods for use with nonverbal individuals and populations. Such methods have been adapted to further understanding of the behavioral profiles associated with disorders such as autism, depression, and neurotoxicant exposure. Overall, Dr. Mcllvane's program has a strong research-to-practice emphasis. For example, methods from his laboratory research are being used to teach practical skills in regular and special education classrooms in the United States, Brazil, and elsewhere. Dr. McIlvane’s career contributions were recognized by translational research awards from Division 25 of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Behavior Analysis-International and by his designation as a Fellow of both organizations.



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