Saturday, June 03, 2006

Reader Request: So You Want to Know About Behavior Analysis

In this analysis I will very briefly, highlight and explain the major branches and subtypes of behavior analysis. I began this analysis upon the request of a reader, and I will have at least two more reader requested articles within the next month or so. I hope that the readers will find this taxonomy helpful and satisfactory in an introductory sort of way.

I have head the argument that all behavior analysis focuses upon is autism. This position simply reflects a lack of knowledge of the field of behavior analysis and perhaps has even done considerable harm. Alternately, I have heard that practitioners of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the autism field should abandon the “ABA” name in order to disassociate themselves from the formerly used aversive practices in the field. My hope is that by presenting this analysis, those who hold such positions may reconsider (provided they actually read it).

The Two Major Divisions

Division 1. Behaviorism

Behaviorism: Is not the science of behavior, but a philosophy of that science (Skinner, 1974). It is related to logical positivism. It is a sub-branch of materialism, and within the broader field of epistemology.

It is possible to use principles of behavior analysis, but not philosophically, be a behaviorist. Alternately some person can be behaviorists, but not behavior analysts. This was/is true of certain philosophers such as J.R. Kantor.

Behaviorism can be broken into at least 14 major subdivision, only some of which survive into contemporary times.

1) Non specified: Includes a general orientation to towards the philosophical applications of behavior analysis, but without attributes that would allow for a more specific niche.

2) Cognitive-Behaviorism: Combines philosophies found within cognitive psychology an philosophies found within behaviorism. This may be the most popular form of behaviorism.

3) Radical Behaviorism: Is likely to be the second most popular form of behaviorism. It takes the stance that the study of thoughts and feelings are indeed appropriate study matter alongside more directly observable behavior.

4) Classical Behaviorism: Was the initial Branch of behaviorism, and can be traced to the early writings of Watson. It takes the position that covert behavior does not exist or is better explained as overt behavior.

5) Methodological Behaviorism: Holds that the primary focus of psychology should be the objectively and directly observable. For this reason, thoughts, feelings, cognition, are ruled out as appropriate subject, while not denying their existence per se.

6) Logical Behaviorism: Focuses, on the how we know what we know, in terms of behavior.

7) Teleological Behaviorism: Puts special attention on determining the behavior of individual as opposed to the general case.

8) Theoretical Behaviorism: Can be called an extension of radical behaviorism, but exceeds such, in focus upon covert events, and uses theorization about cognition to help explain behavior.

9) Biological Behaviorism: Puts special emphasis on the biological descriptions of behavior analytic theory.

10) Inter-behaviorism: Places special focus on the field theory of behavior analysis.

11) Hullian Behaviorism: Involves a focus on the physiological side of behaviorism.

12) Post-Hullian behaviorism: Involves several modifications of Hullian Behaviorism and is noted an orientation to group research logic.

13) Purposive Behaviorism: An early and distinct branch of cognitive-behaviorism

14) Experimental Behaviorism: Contains a special orientation to research focused on the overt and less emphasis on theoretical structures to explain behavior.

I note that several other subtypes could be said to exist, but I would argue that this is sufficient to be going on with.


Division 2. Behavior Analysis

Behavior analysis is the science of human behavior (Skinner, 1974). However, perhaps it better defined, as the science that focuses on explicit learning. This science is more parsimoniously broken into a taxonomy by its specific applications. This is discrepant from how I have broken down behaviorism. My apologies for any confusion this may cause.

3 Major Sub-Divisions

1) Experimental Analysis of Behavior: Involves research focused upon in the laboratory or other controlled setting. The questions answered in such research are of a highly conceptual nature which allow for the formation or rules or laws of learning via specific methods. This research is often, but not universally conducted with animals, as opposed to humans. Not all behavior analytic concepts originate in this field, some come from the bridge or applied fields, and are carried back later to the EAB. A notable example is the token economy.

2) Applied behavior Analysis: Involves research that looks at actual events in the lives of the participants. This typically involves humans, but is also true for animals.

3) Bridge Research: Denotes research that is not neither applied nor truly an example of EAB. Typically, but not universally, this involves research with humans, and answers a question about a real life concern, but not the participants natural environment.

Applied Behavior Analysis is the largest sub-division and should be broken down even further into the populations each group works with.

A) Educational: Is the largest group and includes several smaller application

a) Mainstream

b) Special Education
-Autism
-Developmental Disabilities
-Other disabilities

B) Animal

a) Zoo work

b) Pet training

c) Law Enforcement

d) Wild Animal Rehabilitation

e) Animal research

f) Movie/stunt animal training


C) Clinical

a) Phobia deconditioning

b) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment

c) Family/Relationship Therapy

d) Stroke/ Traumatic Brain Injury Therapy


D) Organizational Behavior Management

a) Business training

b) Sports training

c) Safety Training

e) Movement of people

f) Behavior of groups

g) Marketing


I will not dispute that many more groups can be included in this taxonomy, but this should sufficient for an introduction.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Camille said...

Jon, You need to go back to your behaviorist and aske them to reinforce that 2 comes after 1 and before 3. :-)

"1) Applied behavior Analysis: Involves research that looks at actual events in the lives of the participants. This often involves, (?)
but is also true for animals.

3) Bridge Research: Denotes research that is not neither applied nor truly an example of EAB. Typically, but universally, (?)
this involves research with humans, and answers a question about a real life concern, but not the participants natural environment."

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Camille said...

And I need my behaviorist to help me learn to spell "ask".

7:23 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Arhhh,

Or, at least ask them to work on my proof-reading behavior :)

7:44 PM  
Blogger r.b. said...

I have inserted this into my favorite places. I will study it, and am so thankful for the introduction. I think there needs to be a dialog...good aspects need to be kept, and bad aspects brought under the light of scrutiny.

My son's friend (7th grade, special ed, but brilliant ADHD child) is a keen observer of behavior in animals. I hope to learn more from her, also.

8:56 AM  
Blogger r.b. said...

Methodilogical = IEP's (Individualized Educational Plan)deal almost solely with measurable outcomes (#5). Token economies are very popular in Special Ed.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Alyric said...

John wrote:

"It is possible to use principles of behavior analysis, but not philosophically, be a behaviorist."

Not in any meaningful sense, you can't. The philosophy underlying the principles enables their application - no philosophy=no application. For a behaviour analytic framework to make any sense at all, you must believe that psychological states and traits (feelings, volition,intentions etc) are illusory, i.e. private behaviour is just like public behaviour - a product of a reinforcement history. Otherwise they would be powerful confounding factors in your analysis that cannot be controlled for, making any claim to 'prediction and control' ludicrous.

Similarly, no behaviourist should aspire to being 'scientific' - that infers that knowledge of some reality beyond the analysis is available to the researcher - and if that's not mentalism, what is? The most you can aim for and stay within the bounds of behaviourism is Pragmatism. Science doesn't operate that way, but then, behaviourism doesn't use the methods, analytical tools or philosophy that Science does. Science has theories - falsifiable ones; explains things rather than merely describes things and believes that there is an external reality independent of the observer. Behavioursim has the Law of Effect - disproved in the 1960s by the Brelands, wasn't it? I think we'd be in all kinds of trouble if the laws of Science operated with the same kind of reliability that behaviourist laws do.

However, that unreliability neatly accounts for the random scatter plot of 'results' seen with ABA and autism,no better than placebo and given the confounds of development regardless of what you do, the placebo effect is pretty large. And that's not even looking at what some people think is good experimental design (not).

Oh yeah, you don't need to bother with concepts like parsimony, though I've seen the term used almost as often as 'scientific' and 'empirical' in the behaviourist literature and with about the same justification. When you have theories that explain things,then you get to claim that one is more parsimonious than the other, otherwise - not applicable.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Alyric,

You quote me as saying:


"It is possible to use principles of behavior analysis, but not philosophically, be a behaviorist."

And then say:

”Not in any meaningful sense, you can't. The philosophy underlying the principles enables their application - no philosophy=no application.”

There are certain non-behaviorists and particularly cognitive psychologists who do not accept the validity of specific behavioral techniques except in singular/isolated instances. In those singular cases, they accept the validity of the principle. We see this very often for phobia deconditioning or for the application of behavior analytic principles to certain populations e.g. (very young children). Such persons could not be said to be philosophically behaviorists in general, merely persons who use a technique at certain points.

This is even more true for parents who swear up and down on developmental psychology, but still employ Time-Out, which was created by a behavior analyst (Nate Azrin).


“For a behaviour analytic framework to make any sense at all, you must believe that psychological states and traits (feelings, volition,intentions etc) are illusory, i.e. private behaviour is just like public behaviour - a product of a reinforcement history.”

No, such a position in logical only in certain behaviorist philosophies, namely, Classical, Methodological, Logical, and sometimes Experimental. This is quite the opposite of other behaviorist philosophies such as Inter-Behaviorism, Teleological, Theoretical, Skinner’s Radical Behaviorism, Cognitive-Behaviorism, and Purposive Behaviorism.

“Otherwise they would be powerful confounding factors in your analysis that cannot be controlled for, making any claim to 'prediction and control' ludicrous.”

This is the historical and contemporary Methodological Behaviorism criticism of say, Radical Behaviorism. However, I agree with Skinner in this case. If we want to tell the whole story, we must deal with private events and their relationship to behavior. I don’t think we will be hoisted by our own petard in this case. Behavior analytic concepts are generally purely descriptive/predictive and don’t rule out the involvement of cognition in and of themselves.

“Similarly, no behaviourist should aspire to being 'scientific' - that infers that knowledge of some reality beyond the analysis is available to the researcher”

A behaviorist could aspire to being scientific, but behaviorism itself can not, it is the philosophy of a science, not the science itself. On the other hand behavior analysis can be scientific.


“-and if that's not mentalism, what is?”

It is not mentalism, which is not statement of the existence or the involvement of thoughts/feelings, but the circular explanation of behavior based on thought/feeling:

Example 1

Bobby ate food because he is hungry.
How do you know he is hungry?
Because he ate food.

Example 2.

Julie threw the rock because she is angry
How do you know she is angry
Because she threw the rock.

Non Example:

Bobby ate food.
I have felt hungry when I ate food.
I infer that like me, Bobby is eating because he is hungry.

This is not by definition, a mentalistic answer (but it still could be incorrect).

“The most you can aim for and stay within the bounds of behaviourism is Pragmatism. Science doesn't operate that way, but then, behaviourism doesn't use the methods, analytical tools or philosophy that Science does. Science has theories - falsifiable ones; explains things rather than merely describes things and believes that there is an external reality independent of the observer.”

Behavior analysis like other forms of science, takes the position that there is/could be an external reality independent of the observer, this could be determined by a review of JABA http://seab.envmed.rochester.edu/jaba/
I know of no science that holds “beliefs” by the way. Behavior analysis does indeed use the same tools and methods as other branches of science, including, the practice of the establishment of science (Observation, theorization/hypothesis formation/prediction, testing, debate), the use of the same assessment tools such as group logic research, descriptive research, and single case design (all of which are not unique behavior analysis), it allows both hypothesis generation/testing as well as empirical questions e.g. (to what extent does the manipulation of factor x, cause a change in factor y). It takes the same epistemological assumptions as does other forms of science e.g. (The orderliness of the universe, the know-ability of that order, empiricism, control for extraneous variables, and testing).

“Behavioursim has the Law of Effect - disproved in the 1960s by the Brelands, wasn't it?”

The law of effect states that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Breland and Breland did not disprove this, they mentioned the importance of species specific behavior or (like Skinner) they rejected the concept of tabula rasa (blank slate). If anything the Breland’s mentioning the repeated occurrence of say the raccoons hand washing was proof of the Law of Effect. Further, both Brelands relied on the Law of Effect to train animals for their famous demonstrations of positive reinforcement.

“I think we'd be in all kinds of trouble if the laws of Science operated with the same kind of reliability that behaviourist laws do.”

Which one in particular?

”However, that unreliability neatly accounts for the random scatter plot of 'results' seen with ABA and autism,no better than placebo and given the confounds of development regardless of what you do, the placebo effect is pretty large. And that's not even looking at what some people think is good experimental design (not).”

We would have to know what effect placebo has, in order to determine if the ABA group designs are no better than it. Further, in terms of single case design there is the occasional use of Alternating Treatments Design. This in a broad sense (but your point was broad brushing, after all) offers a counter proof to your point.

“Oh yeah, you don't need to bother with concepts like parsimony, though I've seen the term used almost as often as 'scientific' and 'empirical' in the behaviourist literature and with about the same justification. When you have theories that explain things,then you get to claim that one is more parsimonious than the other, otherwise - not applicable.”

Parsimony is important in behavior analysis, but things should not be so parsimonious that they are simplistic. Equally, Parsimony should allow for questions and not kill off inquiry.

More applicable to your point; one would need to determine if behavior analysis allows for theories.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Alyric said...

Hi John

Very briefly here- it's been tne week from Hell:) and this is probably not the right venue for it, but hey - you say that the principles and the philosophy can be split and I say you must be angle parked in a parallel universe. For the purposes of this discussion, 'behaviorism' is Skinnerian behaviorism and a behaviorist is a practitioner of ABA. I have no interest in other forms of behaviorism, because they don't impact on autism.

I don't think in all of the natural sciences there has ever been function without structure. Maybe another reason why as Ayn Rand put it, behaviorism seeks to imitate Science but not emulate it. Actually, I think you got your principles and methods mixed up. "Time Out" (tm) sounds like a method not a principle and moreover, one that behaviorism has nicked from somewhere else. Nothing new in that. Now, there's a nice PhD thesis for someone. Trace all the methods/ideas that behaviorists claim to have invented back to their natural origins. Could start with Skinner and trace his big idea to Thorndike. But then Freud took his big idea from Galton. Pity really that psychology has been so blessed with one pseudointellect after another. Hard to build a science on fraudulent foundations.

In answer to states and traits being illusory, you wrote:

>>>This is the historical and contemporary Methodological Behaviorism criticism of say, Radical Behaviorism. However, I agree with Skinner in this case. If we want to tell the whole story, we must deal with private events and their relationship to behavior. I don’t think we will be hoisted by our own petard in this case.....

It is not mentalism, which is not statement of the existence or the involvement of thoughts/feelings, but the circular explanation of behavior based on thought/feeling:

Example 1

Bobby ate food because he is hungry.
How do you know he is hungry?
Because he ate food.

Example 2.

Julie threw the rock because she is angry
How do you know she is angry
Because she threw the rock.

Non Example:

Bobby ate food.
I have felt hungry when I ate food.
I infer that like me, Bobby is eating because he is hungry.

This is not by definition, a mentalistic answer (but it still could be incorrect). <<<<

Prepare to be hoisted:)

This is argument by red herring or what looks to be the standard behaviorist answer to methodological behaviorist reasoning. Mentalism is about so much more than this and parents everywhere have a right to know exactly how behaviorists view the person. After all, ABA is applied to very small children. Don't you think that parents need to know that a la behaviorism, the person is nothing more than a marionette dancing to the tune of the environment? Skinner said - "To man qua man we say good riddance"

No self determination, no free will, no agency, no creativity, no personal responsibility. It was Skinner who said that there were no creative people per se - just that some were better at arranging contingencies that led to novel things.

The big thing is what do you tell parents who are practising Christians? Sorry but we operate on this uber atheist paradigm and all your ideas are just infantile superstition? Are ABA therapists honest and up front about this?

Of course, there are sound reasons why man as 'self-determinative agent of own destiny' is anathema to behaviorism. Your 3 or 4 term contingency analytic unit has enough trouble with post hoc attribution of stimulus control not to mention observable behaviour which remains unexamined, compounded with a 'technical' vocabulary of less precision than standard English. Throw in an organims who can behave like x because he feels like it and your analysis is so much deus ex machina. Note that I'm talking about human complex behaviour and not the extreme minimalist environment of Skinner boxes and animal experiments.

>>>>Behavior analysis like other forms of science, takes the position that there is/could be an external reality independent of the observer, this could be determined by a review of JABA http://seab.envmed.rochester.edu/jaba/<<<<<

I dispute that behaviorism has anything at all in common with the natural sciences though no doubt they would like people to think so.
However, the great thing about behaviorist journals is that they make all their stuff avaiable. It's fantastic and such a good read. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the peer review process until I read the exchanges between Baum and Staddon and the dust up about RFT - Hayes, Barnes Holmes vs Tonneau, Palmer, Donahue and especially Burgos. I think that one could make a pretty convincing case based solely on the kinds of peer review on view in this field that this bit of psychology is just another 'fashion in intellect' in the Humanities - something on a par with sociology or literary criticism.

>>>I know of no science that holds “beliefs” by the way. <<<

Picky picky, and this from someone who can use a concept 'mand', which can mean half a dozen things and will insist that it has the same definitional precision as e.g. covalency.

>>Behavior analysis does indeed use the same tools and methods as other branches of science, including, the practice of the establishment of science (Observation, theorization/hypothesis formation/prediction, testing, debate)<<

I don't want to go into it here because it's a very big topic but Ayn Rand was essentially correct (very strange to find myself agreeing with Rand about anything)- behaviorism is imitation of Science without emulation and that is so about everything from definitions, observation, theoretical stance (not really existent), philosophical stance etc. I'm somewhere in the middle of writing a piece to the tune that ABA, brainchild of behaviorism, is not based on 50 years worth of 'scientifc research' because behaviorism has not ever been 'scientific' and doesn't look like it's ever going to be.

>>>The law of effect states that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Breland and Breland did not disprove this, they mentioned the importance of species specific behavior or (like Skinner) they rejected the concept of tabula rasa (blank slate).<<<<

I've read in half a doxen places that the Law of Effect states that reinforcement increases the probability of a response. That's what the Breland's pigs disproved so neatly. Of course a lot of other people have also shown that this is not a universal truth and hence is no Law - Deci and Ryan and somebody called Weiner, though I haven't read his stuff yet.

Sorry, but behaviorism is indeed a tabula rasa ideology and it's sheer sophistry to suggest otherwise. All behaviour is due to the environment except in the case of past environments - evolutionary heredity. And we're all so malleable to boot. Pish and likewise pshaw. (just trying out how to scoff in print:)

>>>>Which one in particular? <<<<
The Law of Gravity is a universal truth - so far.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Alyric,



”Very briefly here- it's been tne week from Hell:) and this is probably not the right venue for it”

Sorry about your bad week, no problem though, I just got back from a camp and took an extra day or two to catch my breath myself. And your comments/criticisms are always welcome here in terms of a place of venue.

“but hey - you say that the principles and the philosophy can be split and I say you must be angle parked in a parallel universe.”

(laughs) alright….lets see what you got.

“For the purposes of this discussion, 'behaviorism' is Skinnerian behaviorism and a behaviorist is a practitioner of ABA. I have no interest in other forms of behaviorism, because they don't impact on autism.”

If you want to stick to radical behaviorism that is fine, but other forms do have a current and direct impact on autism, especially Inter-behaviorism as seen in RFT which is being used/researched with autistic kids out in Nevada. Ditto for Methodological behaviorism of which one might claim Lovaas himself represents. I could probably make a case for a few other forms as well (at the very minimum, cognitive-behaviorism).

“I don't think in all of the natural sciences there has ever been function without structure. Maybe another reason why as Ayn Rand put it, behaviorism seeks to imitate Science but not emulate it.”

Most natural sciences, including but not limited to psychics, chemistry, and geology use theorizations to help explain events. Ditto for certain applications of mathematics. Behavior analysis is not different in this regard. Having read Ayn Rand’s critiques of a variety of Skinner’s work I have read such positions similar to the above several times now, but have yet to see her establish proofs for such. Can you cite any?

“Actually, I think you got your principles and methods mixed up. "Time Out" (tm) sounds like a method not a principle and moreover, one that behaviorism has nicked from somewhere else.”

I accept that as a legitimate criticism of what I wrote, but now I will revise it, so the point I made via that comment will not be lost: Time-out, is an application of a very specific behavior analytic principle, which is the prevention of the presentation of a reinforcer contingency which is tied into negative reinforcement. The fact that Time-out was owes a lot too and is revised from the practice of removing children from a fun activity and/or sending them off to bed when they were ill behaved, does not mean the two are just and precisely the same.

“Nothing new in that. Now, there's a nice PhD thesis for someone. Trace all the methods/ideas that behaviorists claim to have invented back to their natural origins.”

Sure, you most certainly could, although I would be very inetrested by an attempt to do so for functional analysis.

“Could start with Skinner and trace his big idea to Thorndike. But then Freud took his big idea from Galton. Pity really that psychology has been so blessed with one pseudointellect after another. Hard to build a science on fraudulent foundations.”

Could start with Newton and trace his big idea to Descartes. But then Galileo took his big idea from Copernicus. Pity really that mathematics has been so blessed with one pseudointellect after another. Hard to build a logic base on fraudulent foundations.

I modified your phrase above to show how your statement is equally true of another application of logic and further, I would suggest that such is not a problem per se provided credit is given where credit is due. Skinner original work, Skinner (1938) does put Thorndike as first describing operant conditioning. Although, Thorndike did not describe it in anything like a satisfactory manner.

“Prepare to be hoisted:)”

(grins) Standing ready…..

“This is argument by red herring or what looks to be the standard behaviorist answer to methodological behaviorist reasoning.”

If you will claim that I use a red herring, then you should show how.

“Mentalism is about so much more than this”

Not according to Skinner (1974) or even according to Interverbal. If you will claim that mentalism is broader in the number/type of concepts it includes compared to the narrow way behaviorist define it, then that is fine, but you could not claim behaviorists reject those concepts as the definitions would be, quite different. To do so would be to employ the fallacy of equivocation.
“and parents everywhere have a right to know exactly how behaviorists view the person.”

I agree….

“Don't you think that parents need to know that a la behaviorism, the person is nothing more than a marionette dancing to the tune of the environment?”

If that were the position that (via your wishes) radical behaviorism takes, then yes. However, this position is not a factual representation.

“Skinner said - "To man qua man we say good riddance"

So, he did. But he also said that no reputable students of animal behavior has ever come into the lab with the position that the animals are a tabula rasa. Skinner accepted that genetics played a huge role right from the beginning of his career and he never wrote otherwise. Skinner was a determinist, but not a purely environmental one.

”No self determination, no free will, no agency, no creativity, no personal responsibility.”

Advocating determinism does not mean that there is no such thing as personal responsibility, this has never been stated or even implied by any behaviorist to my knowledge including Skinner.

“It was Skinner who said that there were no creative people per se - just that some were better at arranging contingencies that led to novel things.”

I can not speak for others, but I look back at my rather mediocre drawings, acceptable work with clay, and reasonably good (in a low level sort of way) oil on canvas work, and all the influences different things had on me in making them, then I will side with Skinner.

”The big thing is what do you tell parents who are practising Christians?”

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If I have a thought about what causes what, then I will share it.

“Sorry but we operate on this uber atheist paradigm and all your ideas are just infantile superstition?”

A science can not be more atheistic than another and a science can not be atheistic at all. Sciences do not treat on religious matters. They inherently neither accept nor deny the existence of God(s).

I have indeed encountered theistic beliefs that I would label as infantile superstition, however, that is quite rare and I could say the same for absurd positions that were put forth by certain atheists. I would not inherently label a general religious in pejorative way, even if I do not agree with that specific view.

“Are ABA therapists honest and up front about this?”

You would have to ask them. Personally, I have no problem saying that my science doesn’t treat on the existence of God.

”Of course, there are sound reasons why man as 'self-determinative agent of own destiny' is anathema to behaviorism. Your 3 or 4 term contingency analytic unit has enough trouble with post hoc attribution of stimulus control not to mention observable behaviour which remains unexamined,.”

Non-sequitur; the fact that we have trouble with the 3 term contingency (more on that later) does not lead to the rejection of man as 'self-determinative agent of own destiny'.

Stimulus control is a misused term, in operant contingencies the stimulus signals the availability of a given outcome and is not always present or absent. Behavior analysts speak of discriminative/warning stimuli as preceding a behavior, but not as eliciting, evoking, or causing it.

It is possible to analyze a contingency in the absence of a post hoc analysis as is done in the functional analysis.

Observable behavior can be examined via this analysis, but requires the use of controlled conditions.

“compounded with a 'technical' vocabulary of less precision than standard English”

For example?

“Throw in an organims who can behave like x because he feels like it and your analysis is so much deus ex machina. Note that I'm talking about human complex behaviour and not the extreme minimalist environment of Skinner boxes and animal experiments.”

So noted, but I have never met an organism who behaved simply because they felt like it in a stand alone sort of way. I would want to know why they felt like it (or thought about doing it to be more precise with my vocabulary).


“ dispute that behaviorism has anything at all in common with the natural sciences though no doubt they would like people to think so.”

As you like, I await your arguments and hope to learn from them. Behaviorism though, isn’t a science, it is a philosophy. Behavior analysis is the science.

”However, the great thing about behaviorist journals is that they make all their stuff avaiable. It's fantastic and such a good read. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the peer review process until I read the exchanges between Baum and Staddon and the dust up about RFT - Hayes, Barnes Holmes vs Tonneau, Palmer, Donahue and especially Burgos. I think that one could make a pretty convincing case based solely on the kinds of peer review on view in this field that this bit of psychology is just another 'fashion in intellect' in the Humanities - something on a par with sociology or literary criticism.”

As you like….

”Picky picky, and this from someone who can use a concept 'mand', which can mean half a dozen things and will insist that it has the same definitional precision as e.g. covalency.”

(laughs) No so much. Mand is a broader concept which has more precise sub-parts. A better comparison would be to a quadratic equation (more than one subtype).

”I don't want to go into it here because it's a very big topic but Ayn Rand was essentially correct (very strange to find myself agreeing with Rand about anything)”

I have the same problem….

“behaviorism is imitation of Science without emulation and that is so about everything from definitions, observation, theoretical stance (not really existent), philosophical stance etc. I'm somewhere in the middle of writing a piece to the tune that ABA, brainchild of behaviorism, is not based on 50 years worth of 'scientifc research' because behaviorism has not ever been 'scientific' and doesn't look like it's ever going to be.”

In rebuttal I will re-state the same criticism I aimed at Rand in that she asserts this, but never backs it up. Moreover behaviorism has never done a lick of research, but behavior analysis has, as these were done to the tune of established research logic.



”I've read in half a doxen places that the Law of Effect states that reinforcement increases the probability of a response.”

I can’t treat on, what I haven’t read, but the Law of Effect is the creation of one, John Broadus Watson, and is properly recited as I gave it. If others have modified it, I have not encountered such and would not agree with such a definition as it is redundant. Reinforcement by definition increases a behavior, otherwise it is not reinforcement.

“That's what the Breland's pigs disproved so neatly. Of course a lot of other people have also shown that this is not a universal truth and hence is no Law - Deci and Ryan and somebody called Weiner, though I haven't read his stuff yet.”

I imagine that you are aware that Deci’s work has been the subject of dueling meta-analyses (in the words of Madame Dawson). Also I am not convinced by his work that I have read thus far. His research is not always particularly direct to the subject of what he is looking at. Ryan and Weiner I know less of, and so can not comment. I will look at their work later.

”Sorry, but behaviorism is indeed a tabula rasa ideology and it's sheer sophistry to suggest otherwise.”

Well if rearranged a bit, there is some truth in this. It would in fact be sophistic for one to claim that any opposition is fallacy ere is given simply as it is in odds with another position. One must look at the statement to judge that.

I do not reason that any person is a “scraped tablet” or “blank slate” and I expect that a great of human behavior has naught to do with learning or the environment. This is the same sturdy position that all behaviorists I have spoken with take, although there are likely some counter examples out there. This is the radical behaviorist position as stated by Skinner and affirmed by others including me.

”The Law of Gravity is a universal truth - so far.”

Some law, I can overcome the collective gravity of this planet for a second or so every time I jump.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gentlemen, or Ladies, as the case may be, specifically Interverbal and Alyric,
Thank you for this exhaustive debate. I am a student of ABA myself and have found both the explanation and the critical analysis that the two of you have provided here to be fascinating and rewarding. Keep up the good work. Sr Sr Sr

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And hast thou not sirrah

considered of that noble variant of thy philosophy that was wont to be yclept tragical-historical-pastoral-comical behaviourism for I wot not that fair Aristotle had in his Grecian realm a melliflous impart so redolent of the rosy reduction of thy garland of poesy?

Forasmuch as thy kinsfolk might chide thee I chide thee not for thou art no Caitiff Politician but an honest broker worthy of thy salt,

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Houvouras said...

Enjoying your blog. If you'd like, you can cehck ours out: www.behaviorconcepts.com

Thanks for entertaining us. You write well.

Regards,

Andrew & Rayna Houvouras

7:56 PM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Andrew,

I checked out your site and your blog. How cool! There are almost no behavior analysts who blog about behavior analysis. Its good to see a fellow behavioral blogger.

I will certainly pop in from time.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Jorge Campo said...

You wrote in part:
"10) Inter-behaviorism: Is the newest Branch of behaviorism, it places special focus on the field theory of behavior analysis."

I am afraid interbehaviorism is much older than radical behaviorism and therefore cannot be considered as "the newest branch of behaviorism".
See for example:
web.utk.edu/~wverplan/kantor/moore.html

In terms of incompatibilities, I consider myself an interbehaviorist (coming from skinnerian positions) and a behavior analyst. I do not see such incompatibility. It is not the same to say that Kantor was more preocupied with observation rather than control than saying that being behaviorist one cannot be a behavior analyst.

Anyway, good to see a blog dedicated to BA. Congratulations.

Jorge
http://autismoaba.blogspot.com

3:10 AM  
Blogger Interverbal said...

Hi Jorge,

Interesting, I thought it was much younger. Thank you for the correction.

1:39 PM  
Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction) said...

Alyric: "The Law of Gravity is a universal truth - so far."

Sorry, but no.

Works well within the confines of Newtonian mechanical systems (and - yes - I know that the paths of rockets to the outer edges of our solar system are calculated using Newtonian mechanical principles), but the Law is still at odds with special relativistic principles...

Also, the Law does not explain fully certain things such as planetary perihelial precession, deflection of light by large bodies, and the obnservation that inertial and gravitational mass are the same thing (essentially). At least two of these instances are better explained by general relativity theory.

Being called a 'Law' in science does not necessarily mean that something is entirely universal in application: nothing can be such, and we have to make do with things having 'ranges of convenience'. This means that a Law (whether in psychology or in physics) is a model that works in the vast majority of cases and so has a greater range of convenience than most other things we use. The Law of Effect is as much a Scientific Law as Newton's Gravitational Law in that respect.

David N. Andrews
- BA-equvalence: psychology, mathematical sciences, archaeology and Finnish;
- MEd: Special Education (Educational Psychology)

6:12 AM  

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