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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Panel #279
PDS: On the Future of Aversive Control in Basic and Applied Research: Advice for Early Career Professionals
Sunday, May 26, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 204 AB
Area: EAB/DDA; Domain: Theory
Chair: Manish K. Goyal (Southern Illinois University)
MICHAEL PERONE (West Virginia University)
DEAN C. WILLIAMS (University of Kansas)
CAMILO HURTADO-PARRADO (Southern Illinois University)

The ethics of researching and applying aversive control has recently been the subject of intense discussion amongst professional communities. The use of behavioral interventions that involve aversive control may, however, be unavoidable. Three of the four basic operant contingencies (i.e., negative reinforcement, positive and negative punishment) involve events that are empirically defined as aversive. That is, these behavior-environment relations involve events which either suppress behavior that leads to the contingent delivery of those events (punishment), or which maintain behavior that postpones or reduces the occurrence of those events (negative reinforcement). Moreover, there is evidence that positive reinforcement can sometimes establish escape from those contingencies as a negative reinforcer. Thus, behavioral interventions that are nominally based upon positive reinforcement may also have aversive properties. The ubiquity of aversive contingencies regulating behavior, both socially mediated and otherwise, calls for a thoroughgoing understanding of the effects of those contingencies. Recent controversy over the use of aversive control, particularly those involving contingent electric shock, in application and research has called into question the future of research on aversive control. The panel will discuss ways to advance our understanding of aversive control, whether more research is needed, and whether aversive control can be studied and applied ethically.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Applied Research, Aversive Control, Basic Research, Punishment



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