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 #331
CE Offered: BACB — 
Data Science and Behavior Analysis: A Love Story in a Foreign Land
Sunday, May 26, 2024
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 5, Grand Ballroom Salon H
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Jonathan W. Pinkston (University of Kansas)
CE Instructor: David J. Cox, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: DAVID J. COX (RethinkFirst; Endicott College)

Biological organisms are always embedded within a dynamically changing environment rich with stimuli, each potentially influencing one or more behaviors at any given moment. Due to technological constraints, behavior analysts historically had to select which environmental stimuli and behaviors to focus on for data collection. But times have changed. Current technologies enable the collection of extensive data on both behavior and the environment, overcoming traditional limitations. However, managing and analyzing larger datasets necessitates a core set of scalable skills which is the domain of data science. With the right data and skills, however, behavior analysts can begin to explore questions with unprecedented precision, such as: • The exact influence of many variables in the multiple control of behavior; • Detailed, data-driven descriptions and predictions of motivating operation; and • The interplay of molar and molecular contingencies for describing and predicting behavior for a specific individual.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior analytic practitioners and researchers

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the core areas of data science as a field; (2) describe how to translate theoretical ideas into structured datasets where data science can be leveraged to derive data-based answers to related questions; (3) describe at least three areas where combining data science and behavior science might lead to a novel understanding of the behavior of biological organisms.
DAVID J. COX (RethinkFirst; Endicott College)
Dr. David Cox leads Data Science for RethinkFutures. Dr. Cox has worked within the behavioral health industry for 17 years. He began working in behavioral health by providing and then supervising Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. After 8 years of clinical work, Dr. Cox went back to school to earn a MS in Bioethics, a PhD in Behavior Analysis from the University of Florida, Post-Doctoral Training in Behavioral Pharmacology and Behavioral Economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Post-Doctoral Training in Data Science from the Insight! Data Science program. Since 2014, Dr. Cox’s research and applied work has focused on how to effectively leverage technology, quantitative modeling, and artificial intelligence to ethically optimize behavioral health outcomes and clinical decision-making. Based on his individual and collaborative work, he has published over 45 peer-reviewed articles, three books, and over 150 presentations at scientific conferences.



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