MABA 2021

Detroit, MI

NEW for 2021!

Ethics Workshop

Matthew T. Brodhead

Michigan State University

A Behavioral Systems Approach to Ethics Training and Supervision

Professional and ethical behaviors are critical for high quality care and consumer protection. By using behavioral systems, behavior analysts may increase the probability of employees engaging in professional and ethical behaviors. This presentation will survey the basic components of behavioral systems analysis (BSA). Then, it will provide examples of how behavior analysts may use BSA to develop and implement their own behavioral systems to improve ethical behavior of employees and to ultimately increase the quality of care they provide. In the end, this workshop aims to provide a pragmatic, solutions-oriented, and socially valid approach to ethics that focuses on teaching employees “what to do” in certain situations, instead of using a punitive “how not to behave” approach.



Speaker List

Amanda Karsten

Western Michigan University

Welcome Address as MABA President

Bridget Taylor

Alpine Learning Center 

Keynote Address

Training and Treating Wholeheartedly:

Identifying a Role for Compassion Practices in the Profession of Behavior Analysis

Within certain areas of healthcare, it has been documented that treating patients with compassion and empathy can have important benefits, such as increasing patient satisfaction, enhancing adherence to treatment, and improving clinical outcomes (Kirby et al., 2017).  The field of behavior analysis has only recently begun to identify compassion practices which might have applications in our work. Taylor, LeBlanc and Nosik (2019) for example, proposed that clinical outcomes of clients may be enhanced by improving relationships with their caregivers. This presentation reviews survey data documenting parent perception of compassionate care by behavior analysts, as well as behavior analysts’ impressions of training in this area (Leblanc, Taylor, & Marchese, 2019).  Behavioral responses that may comprise compassionate care will be presented along with considerations for how compassionate care of our clients and ourselves can enhance our work as behavior analysts, and potentially improve clinical outcomes.



Amy Odum 

Utah State University

Keynote Address

Delay Discounting & Health Behaviors: Focus on Nicotine Reward 

Delay discounting is the tendency for temporally remote outcomes to hold less value. With steep delay discounting, people may choose smaller sooner rewards at the expense of their long-term health and wellness. Steep delay discounting is associated with a wide variety of unhealthy behaviors, such as drug abuse, problem gambling, overweight and obesity. After describing how to measure and analyze delay discounting data, I will focus on the broader harms of nicotine use, including tobacco smoking and vaping (e-cigarette use), and how they related to delay discounting. Although not widely recognized, nicotine alone (regardless of method of self-administration) has a large number of potential harms for adolescents. Furthermore, there are deep disparities in who is impacted by nicotine use. I will describe work we have conducted with people as well as a new animal model of voluntary e-cigarette use. I will discuss methods to reduce delay discounting, their potential benefits, as well as gaps in our knowledge and future directions.  


Claudia L. Dozier

University of Kansas

Recent Advances in Assessment, Intervention, and Prevention of Behavior Disorders

Behavior disorders exhibited by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities pose challenges to instruction or place them and others at risk.  Three general approaches are used to conduct functional behavioral assessments (FBAs) for the purpose of determining maintaining variables for problem behavior (Iwata et al., 2000).  These approaches include anecdotal (indirect) methods, descriptive (naturalistic) analysis, and functional (experimental) analysis.  Results of FBAs are then used to develop a function-based intervention to reduce the occurrence of problem behavior (Hagopian et al., 2012).  Several general categories of function-based treatments have been shown to be effective including antecedent interventions, extinction, and differential reinforcement.  Furthermore, recent research suggests that environments may be set up that are based on the common functions of problem behavior and empirically validated environmental interventions to prevent the occurrence of problem behavior (e.g., Hanley et al., 2007).  In the current presentation, I will discuss recent research from my lab in assessment, intervention, and prevention of problem behavior.  Specifically, I will discuss research on comparing isolated versus synthesized contingencies in functional analysis methodology, research evaluating interventions in the absence of extinction for the treatment of problem behavior, and preliminary data on a prevention package based on common functions of problem behavior.


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Kathryn Kalafut

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Animal Welfare and Behavior Analysis

The term animal welfare can be tricky to define, but most would agree that an animal’s behavior is an important variable in determining their individual welfare. Collecting meaningful behavioral data in captive environments presents various challenges that often calls for unique solutions. Developing and implementing these unique solutions requires collaboration across individuals with diverse areas of expertise. This talk will explore the research on the relationship between behavior and animal welfare, the unique challenges in conducting behavioral research in captive animal environments, and the diverse expertise required to overcome these challenges. Various on-going research projects will be used to highlight these challenges and review potential solutions. The goals of these projects include, increasing water intake in domestic and exotic cats; measuring individual swimming behavior in 30 little blue penguins; and developing an apparatus for an Asian Elephant to indicate her preferences for environmental conditions.


Claudia Drossel

Eastern Michigan University

Introduction to Behavior Therapies and Dual Diagnoses

While behavior analysts commonly do not receive training in modern behavior therapies, such as behavioral activation, acceptance and commitment therapy, functional analytic psychotherapy, or dialectical behavior therapy, these therapies can be understood from a behavior analytic perspective. This primer will orient the audience to fundamentals of behavior therapies and has three broad aims: (1) to introduce current thinking about mental health; (2) to clarify the link between behavior therapies and behavior analytic philosophy and science; and (3) to promote the application of behavioral principles and processes to case conceptualizations and treatment techniques for clinical presentations, including dual diagnoses.


Sarah Lechago

University of Houston -

Clear Lake

A Short Story About Cultural Competence in Practice

As behavior analysts, we have a great deal of responsibility as autism treatment developers and providers to the people that we serve. Chief among our responsibilities is the ethical and compassionate treatment of the families that we serve, and a dedication to scientifically robust treatment interventions. One other important feature to practice that has recently settled in the forefront of our field’s consciousness is a dedication to cultural competence. In this presentation, I will present on my own experiences that have influenced my research on bilingualism in autism treatment, my own lessons learned, and lessons taught to my graduate students in introducing ABA to an underserved community at the border between Mexico and Texas, and my research on training clinical competence in graduate students in behavior analysis.

Matthew Locey

University of Nevada, Reno

Discounting: Behavior or Behavioral Process?

Behavior analysts have been talking about discounting for over 50 years. But have we all been talking about the same thing? Most behavior analysts talk about people discounting – e.g., ‘gamblers discount money more than non-gamblers’. This would suggest that discounting is a behavior – something we do. But other behavior analysts talk about delay, effort, probability, or social distance as the agents of discounting: e.g., ‘delay discounts money more for gamblers than non-gamblers’. This would suggest that discounting is a behavioral process rather than a behavior. Is this simply a matter of personal preference or is one account superior to the other? If we want to include human and non-human animal phenomena, the behavioral process account is likely more parsimonious. However, a series of studies suggest verbal behavior plays a critical role in typical discounting studies with humans. So, perhaps we have been applying the “discounting” term to two distinct phenomena: verbal behaviors and (non-verbal) behavioral processes. Although this ambiguity may seem trivial, it has likely led to a host of misinterpreted data. This includes casting doubt on all of our conclusions with respect to the discounting of non-monetary commodities with humans.   


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Suzanne H. Mitchell 

Oregon Health & Science University 

Assessing Willingness to Exert Effort Using a Discounting Framework

Heightened preferences for small, immediate over larger, later rewards (delay discounting) have been associated with numerous psychopathologies including substance use disorders and ADHD, but a similar choice structure focused on cognitive effort is less studied; despite its possible association with grit and perseveration. That is, a propensity to select small rewards requiring less or negligible cognitive effort over larger rewards requiring more cognitive effort may be  associated with apathy, while the opposite decision making bias may be associated with success overcoming psychological obstacles like cravings during drug use cessation. Studies will be described in which we explored the relationship between delay discounting and cognitive effort discounting, including analyses of response times and eye tracking characteristics. One study also assessed whether cognitive effort discounting was related to individuals’ duration of smoking abstinence in a smoking restriction paradigm. Another study examined whether cognitive effort discounting differed between ADHD-diagnosed individuals and healthy controls. While this area of research is less developed than that of delay discounting, it appears to general unique insights into psychopathologies in which reinforcement processes are disrupted. 

John Austin

Reaching Results

Leadership: Creating the Right Environment for Success

Leadership is broad term that is often confused with management. Unfortunately, there is not a common definition of either term, and that makes practicing them more difficult. Dr. Austin will discuss the difference between leadership and management, he will ask participants to reflect on the behaviors of the best and worst leaders, and he will describe a model of behavioral leadership that accounts for important aspects of leading, managing, self-management, and relationship management. He will leave the participants with some criteria for reflecting about their own leadership and management, as well as where they might improve. 



Jonathan Pinkston

Western New England University

Title Coming!

Abstract coming!


Jeff Stein

Virginia Tech

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Abstract Coming!



Karen Toussaint

University of North Texas

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Sacha Pence

Western Michigan University

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Jonathan Miller

University of Colorado

Title Coming!

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Stephen Walker

Aurora University

Closing Address as MABA President Elect

Student Presenters


Alec Bernstein

Marcus Institute

2020 Forrest J. Files Award Winner

Response Blocking to Identify Skill & Motivation

Deficits for Inappropriate Self-Feeding

Fernanda S. Oda

University of Kansas

2020 Forrest J. Files Award Winner

An Experimental Analysis of Gender-biased

Verbal Behavior &Self-editing Using an Online Analog