Can professionalism go too far? May 7, 2018

Early on there were just behavior analysts. There was no official definition of what it meant to say that you were a behavior analyst; it was just a matter of self-proclamation. Within that community, there was at least a general sense that being a behavior analyst meant you had a pretty solid knowledge of operant…

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The value of values April 10, 2018

Everyday references to values don’t provide much in the way of hints about their fundamental nature. Our vernacular way of talking about values generally suggests that they crudely identify what we like (or don’t like, depending on how they are expressed). The possibilities range widely, from specific things (vintage Porsches) to activities or experiences (riding…

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Is your behavior really yours? February 27, 2018

The syntax of our vernacular dialect suggests that behavior originates in, comes from, or is possessed by the organism. It is difficult to casually refer to an individual’s behavior – note the possessive case – without these implications. This tendency may not be among the most harmful everyday insinuations, but it’s hardly innocent either. Read…

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Rules are for amateurs January 22, 2018

In this post, I’m going to wander a bit afield from my usual focus on how we talk about behavior from a conceptual or theoretical perspective. This discussion will still focus on how we talk about behavior, but it’s how we talk about our own professional behavior that is at issue. Procedural rules The rules…

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As if November 21, 2017

We do it all the time and it seems so harmless – saying something about behavior but adding a speculation beginning with “as if.” “She was really kind of annoyed, as if she was already in a bad mood” or “When I talk to my dog, he cocks his head as if he’s trying to…

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Identifying a behavior September 6, 2017

A recent thread on the Applied Behavior Analysis Facebook page asked the following question: “Can non-verbal animals mand or is this strictly a human verbal operant?” Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the resulting reactions suggested a variety of behaviors owners considered mands in their pet’s repertoire. These examples generally took the form of an animal…

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You don’t have to understand August 3, 2017

One of the more common convictions shared by everyday folk – that is, those who haven’t been enlightened by training in behavior analysis – is that it is necessary to understand a contingency in order to succumb to its effects. In spite of obvious evidence to the contrary, this assumption should not be surprising. Since…

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Can you step outside your history? June 28, 2017

Regardless of when you studied to become a behavior analyst, your journey was guided by the work of B. F. Skinner. Through his 20 books and hundreds of papers, he has been an instructor for all of us. Even though most have read only a limited selection of his publications, almost everything else we studied…

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