On the Conditioning of Plants: A Review of Experimental Evidence

Abstract

Despite considerable research on the responses of plants to stimuli and a recent surge of interest in “plant intelligence,” few studies have been conducted on classical or respondent conditioning in plants. Studies of respondent conditioning in plants were reviewed, the majority of which used the sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica) as the subjects with seismonastic responses (leaflet-folding and leaf-drooping) as the unconditioned responses, and all of which used group designs. The reported results are mixed, with no replications of positive results. Issues have been noted with the methodology of these studies, including the lack of within-subject demonstrations, choice of putative conditioned stimuli, and potential unplanned interactions between subjects across experimental groups. Recommendations are made for addressing these issues in future research.


Mon, 1 Oct 2018, 5:00 pm





Predict, Control, and Replicate to Understand: How Statistics Can Foster the Fundamental Goals of Science

Abstract

Scientists abstract hypotheses from observations of the world, which they then deploy to test their reliability. The best way to test reliability is to predict an effect before it occurs. If we can manipulate the independent variables (the efficient causes) that make it occur, then ability to predict makes it possible to control. Such control helps to isolate the relevant variables. Control also refers to a comparison condition, conducted to see what would have happened if we had not deployed the key ingredient of the hypothesis: scientific knowledge only accrues when we compare what happens in one condition against what happens in another. When the results of such comparisons are not definitive, metrics of the degree of efficacy of the manipulation are required. Many of those derive from statistical inference, and many of those poorly serve the purpose of the cumulation of knowledge. Without ability to replicate an effect, the utility of the principle used to predict or control is dubious. Traditional models of statistical inference are weak guides to replicability and utility of results. Several alternatives to null hypothesis testing are sketched: Bayesian, model comparison, and predictive inference (prep). Predictive inference shows, for example, that the failure to replicate most results in the Open Science Project was predictable. Replicability is but one aspect of scientific understanding: it establishes the reliability of our data and the predictive ability of our formal models. It is a necessary aspect of scientific progress, even if not by itself sufficient for understanding.


Tue, 4 Sep 2018, 5:00 pm



(I Think) You Are Pretty: a Behavior Analytic Conceptualization of Flirtation

Abstract

Much research in flirtation has been approached from a socio-cognitive perspective and has overemphasized subjective self-reports rather than overt behavior. Existing work pertinent to flirtation is reviewed here in addition to proposing a behavior-analytic perspective on the topic with a conception that includes both rule-governed and contingency-shaped behavior. Of particular interest within a verbal behavior conception of flirtation is the importance of autoclitics—features of a verbal response that affect the listener’s reaction to the rest of the verbal response. Applications of a behavior analytic conception of flirtation and future directions relevant to research on interpersonal relationships are discussed.


Tue, 5 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm


The Power of Narratives Derives from Evoked Behavior

Abstract

The power of stories derives, not from the verbal stimuli themselves, but from the interaction of such stimuli with the on-going idiosyncratic behavior of the listener. This interaction produces behavioral effects that go far beyond what might be expected from a consideration of the narrative as an arrangement of verbal stimuli.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm



Narrative: Its Importance in Modern Behavior Analysis and Therapy

Abstract

The current article considers how the analysis of language and cognition in RFT may be conceptualized as a multi-dimensional multi-level framework (MDML) for understanding how simple units of analysis specified in RFT connect to more complex units, such as the relating of relational networks, which is seen as critical to narrative and story-telling. A brief outline of the framework is used to illustrate the importance of narrative in the treatment of human psychological suffering. In addition, the development of the concepts of verbal functional analysis and the drill-down are presented as examples of how the therapeutic relationship itself can be understood through the lens of the MDML and RFT more generally.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm


Suing for Peace in the War Against Mentalism

Abstract

The antimentalists’ war against mentalism has not vanquished it. To examine why, we focus on two theses—mind as causal and internal—and three standard attacks against mentalism as defined by both theses: 1) mentalism implies dualism; 2) mind is unobservable, which hinders its scientific study; and 3) mentalism is impractical. These salients fail because: 1) if the mind is causal and internal, it must be material; 2) the observable/unobservable distinction is too problematic, with antimentalists equivocal about where to draw that line, with some even embracing publicly unobservable behavior as causally relevant; and 3) mentalism has not been demonstrated to be less practical than antimentalism. For the war on mentalism to succeed, stronger attacks must be devised, both scientific and philosophical. We contemplate some possibilities, while expressing doubts as to the wisdom of continuing the war. Peace may be better than war, and the resulting intellectual commerce may be good for both sides.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm


The “Reproducibility Crisis:” Might the Methods Used Frequently in Behavior-Analysis Research Help?

Abstract

Mainstream biomedical and behavioral sciences are facing what has been dubbed “the reproducibility crisis.” The crisis is borne out of failures to replicate the results of published research at an average rate of somewhere near 50%. In this paper I make a case that the prime culprit leading to this unsatisfactory state of affairs has been the widespread use of p-values from tests of statistical significance as a criterion for publication. Even though it has been known, and made public, for decades that p-values provide no quantitative information about the likelihood that experimental results are likely to be repeatable, they remain a fundamental criterion for publication. A growing realization among researchers that p-values do not provide information that bears on repeatability may offer an opportunity for wider application of research methods frequently used in the research specialty known as Behavior Analysis, as well as a few other research traditions. These alternative approaches are founded on within- and between-participant replication as integral parts of research designs. The erosion of public confidence in science, which is bolstered by the reproducibility crisis, is a serious threat. Anything that the field of Behavior Analysis can offer as assistance in ameliorating the problem should be welcomed.


Sun, 3 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm



Bernard Weiss 1925–2018

Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Behavior Science Emerges

Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm





A Functional-Cognitive Framework for Cooperation Between Functional and Cognitive Researchers in the Context of Stimulus Relations Research

Abstract

Contrary to the view that behavior analysis and cognitive psychology are two competing, mutually exclusive approaches in psychology, the functional-cognitive framework for research in psychology postulates that these approaches operate at different but related levels of explanation and therefore can interact in mutually beneficial ways. I briefly describe the framework and explore how it can be applied to research on stimulus relations.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm


Related to Anxiety: Arbitrarily Applicable Relational Responding and Experimental Psychopathology Research on Fear and Avoidance

Abstract

Humans have an unparalleled ability to engage in arbitrarily applicable relational responding (AARR). One of the consequences of this ability to spontaneously combine and relate events from the past, present, and future may, in fact, be a propensity to suffer. For instance, maladaptive fear and avoidance of remote or derived threats may actually perpetuate anxiety. In this narrative review, we consider contemporary AARR research on fear and avoidance as it relates to anxiety. We first describe laboratory-based research on the emergent spread of fear- and avoidance-eliciting functions in humans. Next, we consider the validity of AARR research on fear and avoidance and address the therapeutic implications of the work. Finally, we outline challenges and opportunities for a greater synthesis between behavior analysis research on AARR and experimental psychopathology.


Thu, 31 May 2018, 5:00 pm