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


Special Event #209A
CE Offered: BACB
The Development of Behavior Science
Sunday, May 26, 2024
9:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 300 Level, Ballroom B
Domain: Theory
Chair: Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
CE Instructor: Linda J. Parrott Hayes, Ph.D.

This session considers the development of behavior science in the context of celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Association for Behavior Analysis International. The session includes three presentations by leaders in the science of behavior, each representing areas of work where there has been significant development with broad implications for theory, research, and application. These areas include cultural behavior science, derived stimulus relations, and the molar perspective. Each presentation addresses where we have been, where we are, and implications for the future, within the context of their respective topic. The session concludes with a panel that discusses these developments as well as the future of science of behavior more generally. Central to this discussion is how the science of behavior might continue to be a progressive science that develops and changes in various ways over time.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and graduate students interested in history of behavior analysis and culturo-behavioral science, the molar view of behavior, and human language and thought.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this presentation, attendees will be able to: (1) Identify at least 3 themes of B. F. Skinner’s work; (2) State the author’s view of the theme of Skinner’s 1981 article “Selection by Consequences”; (3) Describe one example of behavior analytic substantive work addressing societal problems; (4) Specify and define one concept that addresses contingencies of selection in the evolution of cultural phenomena; (5) State their own view (with rationale) regarding the value, importance, or necessity of integrating substantive and conceptual work in culturo-behavior science; (6) Explain the molar view of behavior; (7) Discuss how the molar view of behavior grew from matching theory; (8) Discuss how the molar view of behavior relates to evolutionary theory; (9) Describe key behavior-analytic milestones in the study of human language and cognition; (10) Outline the core tenets of relational frame theory; (11) Explain how recent developments in the study of derived stimulus relations create the opportunity for synergies within the field and highlight future potential research directions.

The Molar View of Behavior and Its Development

WILLIAM BAUM (University of California, Davis)

The history of the molar view of behavior as I conceive it goes back even to my undergraduate days, when Richard J. Herrnstein was my advisor. By the time I finished, I was already doubting the adequacy of the concepts of discrete responses, contiguity, and reinforcement. In graduate school, I saw the beginnings of a way to view behavior as temporally extended with temporally extended causes, particularly relations between rates. Many influences affected my thinking after that, but a linear account would be impossible. In this talk I will explain the influences as best as I can recall them and give some idea of chronology.

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.

Following the Lead of B.F. Skinner to Culturo-Behavior Science

SIGRID S. GLENN (University of North Texas)

Over a period of 50+ years, B. F. Skinner set the agenda for a scientific approach to the subject matter of behavior. His doctoral thesis was essentially philosophical in nature. After about a quarter century of experimentally analyzing operant behavior in laboratory settings, Skinner turned to applications and interpretations that dealt with real-world phenomena in terms of the scientific principles established by his experimental work. For many behaviorists, his 1981 paper titled “Selection by Consequences” pointed to a future in which operant analysis would be linked substantively and conceptually to the evolution of human species on one end, and the evolution of their cultural environments on the other. On the cultural end of this linkage, behavior scientists tend to focus either on substantive or on conceptual matters. Those focusing on substantive matters rather straightforwardly apply operant principles to deal with societal problems involving the behavior of many people (and these efforts pre-date Skinner, 1981). Those focusing on conceptual problems go forward to explore Skinner’s suggestion that selection by consequences accounts for the evolution of cultural phenomena themselves. A brief review of the substantive and conceptual work suggests that integration could be helpful.

Sigrid Glenn is Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of North Texas. Her published work includes four books, 60+ articles and six book chapters on experimental, conceptual and applied topics in behavior analysis and culturo-behavior science. She has served on multiple publication boards and as editor of The Behavior Analyst (1988-1989). As founding chair of the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas, Dr. Glenn established master's and bachelor's degree programs in behavior analysis, leading the faculty in the first accreditation of a graduate program by ABAI. She is a founding fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. Awards from students and colleagues include the 2015 SABA Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis, TxABA’s 2011 Award for Career Contributions in Behavior Analysis and its 2015 Award for Pioneers of Behavior Analysis in Texas; and awards from the University of North Texas, Cal ABA, the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, and the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. Students at UNT named her Honor Professor in 1987 and ABAI student committee gave her Outstanding Mentorship Award in 2008. Dr. Glenn served as president of Texas Association for Behavior Analysis in 1992 and President of the Association for Behavior Analysis International in 1994.

A Brief History of Basic Research on Derived Relational Responding and What the Future May Hold

DERMOT BARNES-HOLMES (Ulster University)

The presentation will describe how the study of derived stimulus relations has provided the basis for a behavior–analytic approach to the study of human language and cognition in purely functional–analytic terms. A brief history of the early behavior–analytic approach to human language and cognition is first provided, focusing on Skinner’s text Verbal Behavior, his subsequent introduction of the concept of instructional control, and Sidman’s seminal research on stimulus equivalence relations. Thereafter, the concept of derived stimulus relations from the perspective of relational frame theory is considered, with an emphasis on how it allowed researchers to refine and extend the functional approach to language and cognition in multiple ways. Some recent conceptual and empirical developments are then reviewed, which highlight how the concept of derived stimulus relations continues to play a key role in the behavior–analytic study of human language and cognition. It will also be argued that this recent work appears to encourage particular synergies across different theoretical perspectives within behavior science, suggesting potential directions for future research.

Dr. Dermot Barnes-Holmes graduated from the University of Ulster in 1985 with a B.Sc. in Psychology and in 1990 with a D.Phil. in behavior analysis. His first tenured position was in the Department of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, where he founded and led the Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Science unit. In 1999 he accepted the foundation professorship in psychology and head-of-department position at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. In 2015 he accepted a life-time senior professorship at Ghent University in Belgium. In 2020 he returned to his alma mater as a full professor at Ulster University. Dr. Barnes-Holmes is known internationally for the analysis of human language and cognition through the development of Relational Frame Theory with Steven C. Hayes, and its application in various psychological settings. He was the world's most prolific author in the experimental analysis of human behaviour between the years 1980 and 1999. He was awarded the Don Hake Translational Research Award in 2012 by the American Psychological Association, is a past president and fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, and a fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis, International. He is also a recipient of the Quad-L Lecture Award from the University of New Mexico and became an Odysseus laureate in 2015 when he received an Odysseus Type 1 award from the Flemish Science Foundation in Belgium.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh