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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Paper Session #166
CE Offered: BACB
Unconscious of Consciousness: Behavioral Interpretations of a Psychological Term
Sunday, May 28, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom H
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Julian C. Leslie (Ulster University)
CE Instructor: Edward K. Morris, Ph.D.
Unconscious of Consciousness: Behavioral Interpretations of a Psychological Term
Domain: Theory
EDWARD K. MORRIS (University of Kansas)
Abstract: This presentation extends the behavioral interpretation of the psychological term “consciousness.” It distinguishes between Consciousness-1 as awareness and Consciousness-2 as awareness of awareness. It offers a brief history of Consciosness-2 (e.g., Skinner’s verbal summator, awareness in verbal conditioning, in comparisons with psychoanalysis). The behavioral interpretations of Consciosness-2 are more recent, but have been sometimes shallow (e.g., describing one’s own behavior, but not why) and narrow (e.g., not describing its effects on others). This presentation extends the depth of the whys and the breadth of the effects. The whys include the consequences and antecedents for describing one’s behavior. More deeply, they include motivational operations. More deeply still, they include behavioral history. Still more deeply, they include the individual, social, and cultural sources of the whys (e.g., familial, institutional). The effects include the influence of one’s behavior as consequences and antecedents for the behavior of others. More broadly, they include its function as motivational operations. More broadly still, they include its effects on their future behavior. Still more broadly, they include the social and cultural sources of the effects (e.g., familial, institutional). The presentation concludes with some means for deepening and broadening our consciousness (e.g., direct instruction, mindfulness training).

Conceptual Issues in Behavior Analysis: Do We Need to Tweak Them, or is a Major Overhaul Required?

Domain: Theory
JULIAN C. LESLIE (Ulster University)

Some of the most basic tenets of behavior analysis are that the explanation of all behaviour should be in terms of interactions with the environment, that behavior is changed by its consequences in the ways specified by a modern version of the law of effect, that those behavior changes contribute a great deal to the behavioral repertoire that is observed, and that these principles apply to the behavior of many animal species including humans, whose covert and verbal behavior is also determined by the same principles. Various areas of recent empirical and theoretical development may threaten some of these tenets. Consequent questions discussed in this paper will include: Is there evidence that response strengthening doesn’t occur, and does this have implications for the ubiquity of the law of effect? Can we maintain a strong version of phylogenetic continuity of learning principles given the evidence from animal cognition studies on the one hand, and relational frame theory on the other? And do studies of observational learning in human development suggest that we have overestimated the role of the law of effect?




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