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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Invited Paper Session #382
CE Offered: BACB
The Language of Politics and the Language of Science: A (Brazilian) Behavior-Analytic Perspective
Monday, May 29, 2023
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom D
Area: PCH; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Michael D. Hixson (Central Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Alexandre Dittrich, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: ALEXANDRE DITTRICH (Federal University of Paraná)
Abstract: Science is under attack – in Brazil and elsewhere. Most of the attacks are politically motivated: suddenly, science became part of a “great evil” of which citizens must be wary. The public image of science is thus being damaged, in spite of the fact that everyday life is pervaded by scientific achievements. What can behavior analysts do about this situation? In this presentation, I will identify some relevant variables that may explain the current distrust of science and suggest some measures we can take as behavior analysts and scientists to face it. The science under attack is a caricature – a verbally constructed image that does not correspond to what scientists actually do, but nonetheless grants abundant social reinforcement from morally and politically motivated groups. Scientists are the ones who must reconstruct a positive public image of science through education and science communication. In order to do that, we must “humanize” science, showing what scientists actually do, including all the limitations, doubts and failures of the scientific work. We must also show that science has its own ethics – one that may be useful and morally relevant in all aspects of life, including politics. Finally, as behavior scientists, we must be able to share our knowledge with the public at large, informing people about the many ways in which their own behavior may be controlled – even by politics.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and scientists interested in the improvement of the public image of science

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe relevant variables that may explain the current distrust of science (2) Describe measures that scientists and behavior analysts can take to rebuild trust in science (3) Describe the importance of sharing behavior-analytic knowledge about the control of behavior with the public at large
ALEXANDRE DITTRICH (Federal University of Paraná)
Alexandre Dittrich is a psychologist with degree from the Regional University of Blumenau/Brazil (1999). He holds a Doctorate degree in Philosophy from the Federal University of São Carlos/Brazil (2004). He conducted postdoctoral research in collaboration with Dr. Henry Schlinger at California State University (2018). He founded and was the first coordinator of the Workgroup on Theoretical Research in Behavior Analysis, affiliated with the National Association for Research and Graduate Studies in Psychology (Brazil) (2020-2022). He was editor-in-chief of Interação em Psicologia (Interaction in Psychology; 2007-2013) and is currently executive editor of the Brazilian Journal of Behavior Analysis and part of the Editorial Board of Behavior and Social Issues. He is Titular Professor in the Department of Psychology at the Federal University of Paraná since 2004, and was chair of the same Department (2006-2009). He was chair of the Graduate Program in Psychology (Master’s and Doctorate degree) at UFPR (2019-2021). He carries out research on the historical, philosophical and theoretical foundations of Psychology and Behavior Analysis.



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