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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Invited Paper Session #66
CE Offered: BACB
Induction Versus Reinforcement and the Molar View of Behavior
Saturday, May 25, 2024
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 5, Grand Ballroom Salon H
Area: PCH; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Andres H. Garcia-Penagos (California State University, Chico)
CE Instructor: William M. Baum, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: WILLIAM M. BAUM (University of California, Davis)

Although behavior analysts have seen reinforcement as a basic principle of behavior for over 100 years, its range of application was always narrow. All it explained was the increase when behavior produced desirable consequences. As research advanced, the limitations of reinforcement and the molecular view it depended on—based on discrete responses and contiguity—became more and more apparent. Reinforcement failed with adjunctive behavior, with “misbehavior,” with avoidance, with originating new activities, and even explaining patterns engendered by simple schedules. It did not explain stimulus control. All of these shortcomings dissolve when one adopts a molar view and substitutes the concept of induction, which links behavior directly to evolutionary theory through the concept of Phylogenetically Important Event (PIE). When Segal introduced induction in 1972, she applied it only to non-operant activities, such as adjunctive behavior. When applied also to operant activities, induction explains all the phenomena that reinforcement fails to explain: the first instance, stimulus control, VI and VR performance, avoidance. Induction also offers a new way to think about verbal behavior. The explanatory power of induction far exceeds that of reinforcement.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

All behavior analysts

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Explain the concept Phylogenetically Important Event; (2) Explain the concept of induction; (3) Describe how induction explains operant behavior; (4) Describe how induction explains stimulus control; (5) Describe how induction explains avoidance.
WILLIAM M. BAUM (University of California, Davis)
Dr. Baum received his BA in psychology from Harvard College in 1961. Originally a biology major, he switched to psychology after taking courses from B. F. Skinner and R. J. Herrnstein in his freshman and sophomore years. He attended Harvard University for graduate study in 1962, where he was supervised by Herrnstein and received his Ph.D. in 1966. He spent the year 1965–66 at Cambridge University, studying ethology at the Sub-Department of Animal Behavior. From 1966 to 1975, he held appointments as post-doctoral fellow, research associate, and assistant professor at Harvard University. He spent two years at the National Institutes of Health Laboratory for Brain, Evolution, and Behavior and then accepted an appointment in psychology at the University of New Hampshire in 1977. He retired from there in 1999. He currently has an appointment as associate researcher at the University of California, Davis and lives in Walnut Creek. His research concerns choice, molar behavior/environment relations, foraging, cultural evolution, and behaviorism. He is the author of three books, Understanding Behaviorism: Behavior, Culture, and Evolution (3rd ed.), Science and Philosophy of Behavior: Selected Papers, and Introduction to Behavior: An Evolutionary Perspective.



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