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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #43
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Backyard Behavior Science: How Technology Allows Weekend Warriors to Conduct Research
Saturday, May 27, 2023
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom B
Area: EAB/AAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Adrienne Jennings (Daemen University)
CE Instructor: David J. Cox, Ph.D.
Abstract: Science can be defined as the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Historically, people may associate "doing science" with highly controlled laboratory or clinical settings, highly trained specialists, and significant amounts of funding for equipment and personnel. Assuming science can only be conducted under such specific conditions also assumes that only those with access to such conditions can advance our understanding of the physical and natural world. To this we say hogwash. The definition of science offered above highlights there are many ways to "do science" that anyone can participate in starting today. In this symposium we provide three demonstrations of how behavior science enthusiasts — in their free time, around existing commitments, and without breaking the bank — used their "backyard" to conduct translational research on behavior-environment relations. Importantly, recent advances in technology and computer science allow for any behavior science enthusiast to pick up similar tools and to start asking questions about the behavior of biological and artificial organismic behavior.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): artificial intelligence, citizen science, technology, translational research
Target Audience: Behavior analysts seeking to better understand basic principles and processes of behavior.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe simple setups for studying nonhuman animal behavior in their backyard; (2) describe simple robotics setups for studying behavior; (3) identify how 1 and 2 allow behavior analysts to learn about basic operant and respondent behavioral principles and processes.
Diversity submission Back Porch Studies: Not a Birden at All
JAVIER SOTOMAYOR (Endicott College & Habita), Asim Javed (Endicott College), David J. Cox (RethinkFirst; Endicott College), Jacob Sosine (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence)
Abstract: There are over 50 billion wild birds on Earth – six times the number of humans – comprised of more than 18,000 different species. Although scientists have studied birds for centuries, they have largely focused on less than 1,000 species based on aesthetics, commonality, or a close relation to human affairs (e.g., food, sport). The remaining 94% of wild bird species are, thus, relatively understudied in terms of behavioral repertoires such as food preferences, feeding schedules, and interspecies and intraspecies competition. Relatedly, one may assume that studying wild birds requires a highly controlled environment, advanced equipment, and a large amount of funds. Think again! This presentation describes how behavior or birding enthusiasts alike can study birds on one’s back porch through simple methods and tools such as off-the-shelf cameras (e.g., Ring), suction cups, birdseed, and a little coding; all for under $150. More specifically, we describe how a simple setup allowed us to study six bird species in the North Shore region of Massachusetts, what we learned about bird behavioral ecology (and ourselves), and how the results of this work can bring behavior science into anyone’s backyard. Overall, we hope this talk inspires future backyard studies by demonstrating it’s not too much of a birden.
Diversity submission Squirreling Around: A Simple Setup to Study Sciuridae as They Scurry for Science
JACOB SOSINE (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence), David J. Cox (RethinkFirst; Endicott College), Asim Javed (Endicott College), Javier Sotomayor (Endicott College & Habita)
Abstract: In the past decade, consumer-level technology has become increasingly cheaper, more advanced in its primary utility, and easier for non-expert individuals to interact with and use in novel ways. Simultaneously, our data-driven culture has led technology to collect, store, transmit, and automate the analyses of increasingly larger datasets. This improved mixture of technological form and function allows us to use technology in novel and creative ways. For behavior analysts, technological advancements offer new methods to efficiently and accurately collect data on behavior-environment relations. In this backyard science project, we used commercially available products (costing under $99) to observe and analyze the behavioral patterns of members of the Sciuridae species (i.e., squirrels). In this presentation, we demonstrate how similar backyard behavior science enthusiasts can use simple techniques and existing computer technology to measure: time allocation, automate reinforcer delivery based on prescribed schedules, and detect animal positioning from a two-dimensional video stream. Audience members should walk away with a general understanding of how they can begin to leverage easy-to-use consumer-level technology for their own backyard science projects.
Diversity submission Robots as Ends in Themselves: How Robots Can Teach Us About Behavioral Principles
DAVID J. COX (RethinkFirst; Endicott College), Jacob Sosine (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence), Asim Javed (Endicott College), Javier Sotomayor (Endicott College & Habita)
Abstract: Behavior scientists from behavior analysis and behavioral ecology have used robots to study and change the behavior of organisms through social interactions (e.g., teach technicians to conduct therapy, condition verbal behavior, study social stimuli in nonhuman animals). Often, the utility of robots was to precisely control an independent variable that would be difficult to control with the same precision if the social partner were a living, biological organism. That is, robots were a means to an end. In this presentation, we describe how robots can be used as ends in themselves to learn about behavior-environment relations via robotics kits costing under $150. Faculty might find robots a cheap alternative to teach basic behavioral principles in an age of dwindling funds for basic nonhuman animal labs. Basic researchers might find robots useful to study how basic behavioral processes interact without extra-experimental bio-behavioral processes getting in the way. And, behavior enthusiasts might find robots useful to learn how behavior is determined by many processes within a whole organism as opposed to focusing only on isolated Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence units.



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