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What's new with the Dissemination of Behavior Analysis group.

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The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has, for decades, served as the flagship organization for the promotion of behavior analysis in all of its forms, including basic research, theory and philosophy, and applied work.  Founded in 1974, ABAI has grown to an organization of 6,300 members worldwide, while affiliated chapters (e.g., state chapters) have a total membership of approximately 14,000.

As ABAI has grown, so has its Special Interest Groups or "SIGs."  Today ABAI has 35 SIGs that represent specializations as diverse as autism, business, sustainability, and robotics.  Today, we will focus on one such SIG -- the Dissemination for Behavior Analysis SIG (DBA).

Originally created in 2007 by Josh Pritchard, PhD, BCBA-D, along with Melissa Nosik, Megan Miller, Corey Robertson, and Amanda Kelly, the group has been headed by Amanda Kelly, PhD, BCBA-D since 2012.  The mission of DBA is "to disseminate the science of human behavior to the public at large through the use of easy to understand explanations of what exactly this science is, and help society realize the potential of this science as well as dispel myths that detract from its positive image."  I recently had a chance to chat with members of the group to provide an update on what the group has been up to since their most recent meeting at the 2013 ABAI conference in Minneapolis last week.  

Among the many things happening with the group, Ben Witts, the vice chair of DBA, is currently putting together a TED-ED animated series illustrating how respondent conditioning applies to dating.  For those of you unfamiliar with TED-ED, the site is "an extension of TEDs mission of spreading great ideas."  TED-ED serves as a forum to bring together talented individuals with professional animators to create engaging educational videos easily disseminable to the public online.  DBA also has plans in the works for several other TED-ED topics, all related to socially significant behavior that we would all do well to increase in our own lives.

DBA has also received nominations for their B. F. Skinner Journalism Award, which "was created in 2009 with the goal of encouraging journalists and authors to write books and articles on the natural science approach to behavior which are targeted at the general population."  The past award was given to David H. Freedman for his article "How to Fix the Obesity Crisis" published in the Scientific American.  According to the DBA website, the article "looks at how a behavior-based approach to the growing problem of obesity may help in curbing its undesirable effects."  DBA will soon announce the winner of this year's award and will also post a video interview with the winner on the DBA website.

DBA also conducted a survey regarding misconceptions of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the results of which were reviewed during the meeting.  They noted that many find ABA synonymous with autism services and discrete trial training.  In addition, many believe that ABA is used only to reduce problematic behaviors and has little use for skill acquisition or adaptive behavior more broadly.  Finally, the survey found that many believe ABA is outdated.  Clearly DBA has their work cut out for them in dispelling these myths.  A cursory glance at this very blog along with the 35 SIGs of ABAI would be a great start in de-validating such misconceptions.

To get involved in the DBA-SIG and do your part in dispelling myths of ABA, please visit the DBA website, which contains a wealth of information on behavior analysis with talks, conference updates, the B.F. Skinner Journalism Award, and much more.

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