The Evolution of Positive Behavior Support in Our Society: A Functional Analysis Anthony Biglan Senior Scientist, Oregon Research Institute Director, Center on Early Adolescence email@example.com
Overview • The power and potential of PBS • Evolution of cultural practices • Principles for intentional efforts to influence cultural practices and their implications for PBS
Power and Potential of PBS • Making schools a culture of respect, cooperation, and caring
Power and Potential of PBS • PBS may eventually become an important cultural innovation for the larger society • It is a step toward • A society with • Consensus about standards for social-relations • Well-ordered organizations • Clear about expectations • Highly reinforcing of effort • Highly supportive socially • Children who grow up in a PBS culture • May be able to create a larger society of caring, respect, and cooperation
PBS Has Expanded the Unit Analysis of Behavior Analysis • The practices of whole schools, not simply the behavior of individuals • Requires new analytic tools
The Challenges • Efficacy • Staff team building • Verbal behavior • Psychological functioning • Increasing understanding of cognitive and social development • Role of verbal behavior in children • Early adolescence—brain, social competition, conflict, deviant peer groups • Effective support of families • Effectiveness
The Challenges • Dissemination—research needed! • Maintenance—research needed • Extensions • Families • Community settings • Business and nonprofit organizations
Useful to see the evolution of PBS within the context of the evolution of other cultural practices.
Why? • We don’t usually see slow change. • We aren’t aware of how many practices that we would consider appalling were once commonplace. • If we understand the factors that influence the selection of better practices we might increase the rate of improvement in society.
PBS: Part of Larger Movement • Ensure the wellbeing of people through science. • Positively reinforcing • Less punitive • To help young people develop successfully
Broader Context for PBS • Public health • The rise of the behavioral sciences • Individual behavior across the range of human problems • Natural movement outward to the study of social systems within which individual behavior occurs.
Some History • Public health developed with efforts to control epidemic disease • Cholera • Typhoid fever • Small pox • Bubonic Plague (Yersinia pestis) • Killed one- to two-thirds of Western Europeans between 1346 and 1349 • Continued in Europe for next 300 years (http://www.bacteriamuseum.org/niches/features/plague.shtml)
Contagion Was Recognized • But mechanism of contagion not understood • Miasma • Conjunction of the planets • Famine • Fate • Beggars • Prostitutes • Jews • Cause: bacterium transmitted by fleas from rats to humans (contagious in humans)
Slowly, Public Health Officials • Identified ways to track and control epidemics • Incidence of illness and death were systematically recorded • Those arriving from overseas or areas with plague were isolated for 40 days (quaranta giorni; hence, quarantine) • Were granted extraordinary powers
John Snow and the Pump Handle • The Ghost Map • The Broad Street Pump • Cleaning up the water • Germ theory and medical treatment had virtually no role
Fundamentals of the Public Health Framework that Emerged • Focus on wellbeing of entire populations • Target for intervention the most prevalent and costly problems • Surveillance: identify cases and ongoing monitoring of incidence and prevalence of problems in defined populations
Fundamentals of a Public Health Framework • Employ ALL means available to affect incidence and prevalence • Treatment and prevention • Through social marketing, programs and policies • An infrastructure to support public health
Public Health Now Extends Well Beyond Epidemics • Chronic diseases • Health conditions causing disease • Health behaviors • Youth problem behavior
Public Health Practices Have Evolved • Practices were retained when they were successful in reducing morbidity and mortality
Some Bold Claims • Behavioral science has made more progress in the last 50 years than in the prior 2,000. • Effective interventions exist for virtually every significant behavioral or psychological problem • Experimental evaluations show greater benefit than alternative practices do
For example… • Children’s behavior • Adolescent problem behavior** • Depression • Anxiety • Marital discord • Smoking cessation ** Biglan, Brennan, Foster, Holder, Miller, Cunningham et al. (2004). Helping adolescents at risk: Prevention of multiple problems of youth. New York: Guilford Press
For example… • Alcoholism • Drug abuse • Health-related issues • Pain • Exercise • Overeating • Diabetic control • Sexual dysfunction
For example… • Prejudice • Burnout • Innovation in the work place
Decidedly Pragmatic • Science in general is a set of practices for solving problems • Interventions in behavioral sciences are retained, refined, or abandoned based on their utility • Contrasts with the traditional view of science as “determining what really is”
A Growing Literature on Cultural Evolution • Biglan, A. (1995). Changing cultural practices: A contextualist framework for intervention research. Reno, NV: Context Press. • Biglan, A. (2003). Selection by consequences. Prevention Science, 4(4), 213-232 . • Diamond, J. (1999) Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies. New York: Norton. • Diamond, J. (2004). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking Adult.
A Growing Literature • Harris, M. (1979). Cultural materialism: The struggle for a science of culture. New York: Simon & Schuster. • Ponting, A.(1991). A green history of the world: The environment and the collapse of great civilizations. New York: Penguin Books. • Glenn S.S. (2004). Individual behavior, culture, and social change. The Behavior Analyst, 27, 133-152. • Wilson, D.S. (2003). Darwin's cathedral: Evolution, religion, and the nature of society. Chicago: UC Press.
However… • Despite enormous progress in the behavioral sciences and some progress in our understanding of cultural evolution, we have yet to translate what we know into widespread benefit to society
Understandable • On the frontiers of what we know • An aversion to being the handmaidens of Imperialism • Who decides?
But Who Can Look at the Current World Without Wishing Things Were Different? • Public health • Reducing crime • Human rights • International security • Childrearing and education
Could Practices Be Different? • Religious intolerance • Government that fails to work for the common good • Sustainable practices
Nonscientific methods of solving our problems have failed • Capitalism • Technology • Democracy • Religion
Why not apply science to the problem of how to influence cultural practices, as we have done with such success in the physical world and with the behavior of individuals?
Your Effort to Develop and Disseminate PBS Practices • An excellent example of the need to learn how to influence cultural practices • An excellent opportunity to further develop a science of cultural change
Five Principles for Cultural Change • Derived from • The literature on cultural evolution • Behavior analysis, including • Relational Frame Theory • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy • Tentative and theoretical • Need to be experimentally evaluated
The Principles • Functional analysis of relevant cultural practices • Measure the practice and its influences • Influence organizational practices by • altering metacontingencies and • influencing the behavior of organization members • Influence the behavior of individuals in the population • Strengthen the practices of organizations that support the desired cultural practices
Principle 1: Organizational practices are selected and maintained by their material consequences
Examples • Agriculture • Male dominance • Capitalism • Auto industry’s quality control • Religion • Sustainability
The Metacontingency • The relationship between the interlocking behaviors of two or more people (the action of a group or organization) and an outcome affecting whether the behavior continues • If sustaining outcomes are not achieved, the practice diminishes or ends • If a practice achieves an outcome, it may continue and be adopted by other groups • Who observe its success • Who are progeny of the group that began it
Metacontingencies for the practices of schools? • What determines whether existing practices will continue to be funded? • Public support of public education--Or lack thereof. • Unlike business organizations or even most nonprofits, schools are largely shielded from direct interference in their practices. • Chubb and Moe—the bureaucratization of schools to maintain reforms • Funding is not contingent on specific practices
Metacontingencies for the practices of schools? • One reason for advocacy for free market principles • Vouchers • Charter schools
Metacontingencies are lacking • To select effective teaching practices • To select effective behavior management practices
Principle 1a: Analyze Behavior of Organization Members that Subserve Organizational Actions • Shared beliefs about PBS? • Shared beliefs about work load? • Stated mission and goals? • Shared values? • A culture of resistance? • A culture of cooperation and caring?
Principle 2: Monitor targeted practices and the factors believed to influence them. .
Obesity in U.S. Adults, 1985 Source: Mokdad AH, et al. JAMA1999, 282:16; 2001, 286:10
Obesity Trends,1986 Source: Mokdad AH, et al. JAMA1999, 282:16; 2001, 286:10