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

Previous Page


Symposium #257
CE Offered: BACB/QABA — 
Diversity submission Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Asian and Traditional Societies: Individualism and Collectivism as Cultural Variables
Sunday, May 26, 2024
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Marriott Downtown, Level 3, Liberty Ballroom Salon A
Area: CSS/CBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Sakurako Sherry Tanaka (Asia-Pacific ABA Network)
Discussant: Maribel Castillo Stikeleather (Behavioral Teaching Solutions LLC; QABA ISC)
CE Instructor: Sakurako Sherry Tanaka, Ph.D.

Every individual belongs to a specific culture. It is, therefore, essential to understand cultural backgrounds to better address their needs. Collectivism stresses the importance of the group, while individualism focuses on the needs of each person. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based practice primarily used in countries with individualistic cultures. There is a need for cultural competence, especially in collectivist societies, to incorporate their cultural values into ABA practices if we want to extend the acceptance of our science in non-Western countries. This symposium offers viewpoints from Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Maori perspectives on navigating the unique needs of collectivist and indigenous backgrounds. It also emphasizes the interdependence between individuals within their social context. Collectivist cultures prioritize group harmony, family cohesion, and community integration. Therefore, practitioners must acknowledge these value systems, such as the role of family and community in the assessment and treatment process when designing behavior interventions. Cultural responsiveness is crucial in effectively navigating the dynamics of different cultural backgrounds to achieve effective outcomes. Integrating collectivist values in the application of ABA emphasizes the need for more inclusive and culturally competent approaches.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Cultural Humility, Cultural Responsiveness, Cultural variables, Linguistic Diversity
Target Audience:

We are submitting in the "intermediate" instruction level because the audience should possess the following prerequisite skills, experience, and competencies: 1. Introductory knowledge of cultural competencies, cultural responsiveness, and cultural humility through behavior analytic literatures, courses, and/or other instructions, and 2. Having a first-hand experience as a behavior analyst, that required cultural responsiveness, and 3. Speak a second language, or learning a second language

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Give three examples demonstrating the importance of cultural sensitivity in the service delivery of ABA especially in the acceptance of ABA outside of US (Japan, the Philippines, and more) 2. Define the difference between Collectivist versus Individualist society. 3. Know the three different approaches of ABA for collectivist societies ( i. Group-based interventions ii. Building on community values, iii. Involving family and community in the process) and use them as needed. 4 . know the impact of culture on success/failure of interventions
Diversity submission 

Balancing Individual and Collective Well-being: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the Philippines

MARIE GALAY (Thrive Behavioral Care; QABA ISC)

Navigating cultural differences when applying Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in collectivist and individualist societies requires a nuanced and adaptable approach. This talk explores both types of societies that can be employed to ensure the effective implementation of ABA services. The Philippines is a collectivist society that prioritizes group harmony and interdependence.Kapwa, Malasakit, and Pananampalatayaare strong Filipino values that emphasize interdependence between individuals within their social context. Adapting ABA interventions to fit within the cultural norms of strong family bonds and communal ties can increase acceptance and success. In contrast, individualist societies, where much of ABA research and technology originates, place a greater emphasis on personal autonomy, self-determination, and individual choice. In these societies, ABA programs focus on individual needs and preferences. This talk delves into the cultural competence and sensitivity required from practitioners to navigate the dynamics of collectivist cultures successfully. The collectivist mindset aligns with the collaborative nature of ABA, making it a natural fit for the cultural context. Recognizing the cultural influences on ABA implementation underscores the importance of cultural sensitivity and ethical practice in this field.

Diversity submission Navigating Through Collectivism and Gender Inequity in Japan: Story of an Autism-Mom-Turned Behavior Analyst's Journey
Abstract: This talk will expand our understanding of cultural responsiveness, cultural competence, and cultural humility in the context of a society that had in the past maintained nearly three hundred years of isolationism, which some social scientists consider still resonant: Japan. I will discuss some fruits of my hard-fought battles to disseminate internationally accepted ABA practice standards and autism advocacy in Japan for the past decade. As my Filipino colleague Marie Galay put it, “Cultural responsiveness is crucial in effectively navigating the dynamics of different cultural backgrounds to achieve effective outcomes. Integrating collectivist values in the application of ABA emphasizes the need for more inclusive and culturally competent approaches.” Japan is also a collectivist society, with its complex communication protocols and “norms” designated for “insider (Japanese)” and “outsider (non-Japanese),” which often make those Japanese returning from overseas difficult to fit in their birth country. Behavior analysts are no exception to this. Moreover, gender inequity characterizes Japanese society. I will share my story as an autism mom turned BCBA, who is also a “returning Japanese national,” struggling to find the right cultural “balance,” and finally succeeding in facilitating a large network of ABA advocates for autism treatment in Japan.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh