BAAM 2016: Mark Your Calendars!
February 18-19, 2016

The 30th annual BAAM convention will be held February 18-19, at the Student Center, Eastern Michigan University.  This year's convention was the biggest ever, with over 500 attendees. We expect 2016 will be even bigger.

Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan clinical  psychology programs both make list of top ten "Hidden Gems" in clinical training.

Objective data on licensing exam pass rates, internship placements, and other measures put both the Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan Clinical Psychology training programs, which include training in behavior analysis and BCBA preparation, in the top ten of programs in the nation.

(Full article here; may require subscription.)

ABAI Practice Board Responds to Time Magazine Failure on the Concept of Time Out.

Picture of page from Time MagazineTime Magazine, which has had a history of endorsing dangerous (Facilitated Communication) and empirically unsupported (Floortime) autism treatments, attacks "time-out," an empirically validated and well-tolerated method originally designed as an alternative to physical punishment.  The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Practice Board responds.

Woman in Australia Convicted of Sex Crime Against Disabled Man, Claimed To Get Consent Through Discredited Facilitated Communication


From the story: A GRANDMOTHER who says she "fell in love" with her severely autistic client at a Sunshine Coast disability services home, has been convicted on two counts of indecent dealing with him....She said he used facilitated communication to tell her that he loved her.

Alan Hudson, veteran FC critic in Australia, "identified numerous substantial faults and concluded it did not "work" for the young man."

Read and sign BAAM's Resolution Against Facilitated Communication

Archive of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB)

View the contents of all back issues from 1958-2012.

Michigan State University Survey on Graduate Training in Applied Behavior Analysis

Faculty of the Special Education Department at Michigan State University are conducting a survey about potential interest in graduate training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes and is designed for respondents who are not Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA).  If you are already a BCBA, please refrain from completing the survey.

MSU ABA Graduate Training Survey



Free, Full Text of B.F. Skinner's 1948 William James Lectures.


Read the lectures that would eventually become B.F. Skinner 1957 classic book, Verbal Behavior.

Typed title of "Verbal Behavior"

Courtesy of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies

Become a "Virtual Member" of BAAM


Virtual members are not official members of BAAM, but do receive email updates and selected mailings.

Western Michigan University Psychology Receives $4 Million for Autism Research and Training

Photo of Western Michigan Group receiving funding

"The efforts funded by the new state money will move forward under the direction of Dr. Stephanie Peterson, chair of the WMU Department of Psychology, and Dr. Wayne Fuqua, professor of psychology, whose longtime focus has been on the use of behavior analysis for the treatment of autism."

Behavior Science Saving Lives

Behavior Classic: Read it again, or for the first time

"Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis"


"Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis," by Donald Baer, Montrose Wolf, and Todd Risley, is a classic in the field, describing the fundamental features of ABA as a science- and evidence-based practice. It is, at its core, an excellent program evaluation tool with which you can measure any treatment approach for quality and potential for success. "Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis" appeared in the first issue of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and has been a standard reading in most behavior analysts curricula since.


New Autism Video Practitioner Resources from Western Michigan University


The Western Michigan University Autism Center for Excellence announces the availability of a series of video interviews with experts in ABA, autism and behavioral pediatrics. See the text of the press release here.


These videos feature presentations and interviews with experts in applied behavior analysis and behavioral pediatrics. In many cases, the videos also include supplemental materials and clinical simulations that demonstrate the application of essential features of an assessment or intervention technique. These videos are designed to enhance the ability of applied behavior analysis practitioners.

"Synomorph:" A Useful Concept From Our Ecological Psychologist Friends.

A synomorph (lit: same shape) is an instance of close fit between a particular behavior pattern and a specific part or parts of a behavior setting. A chair is a synomorph for sitting; a bed for sleeping; a cup for drinking.

The effective use of synomorphs can establish strong antecedent behavior control that reduces the need for instructions or behavioral programming. This is especially useful when the behavior of large numbers of individuals must be managed effectively such as in a classroom or public setting.


Schoggen, P. (1989). Behavior settings: A revision and extension of Roger G. Barker's Ecological Psychology. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

Discrimination Training Sequence Enables Horses to Pick Their Own Blankets in Cold Weather.

Horse choosing blanketBy selectively associating different blanket weights with different symbols, and rewarding correct choices, horses were taught to pick their own blankets.

Writing in The Horse,  Christa Lesté-Lasserre reports: Using a simple series of easily distinguishable printed symbols, Mejdell’s group taught 23 horses to associate symbols with certain actions. The horses learned that one symbol meant “blanket on,” another meant “blanket off,” and a third meant “no change.” Once the horses had learned the meanings (which took an average of 11 days), the researchers gave them free rein to choose symbols and rewarded them with food for their selection, regardless of which symbol they chose.

A common problem in blanket choice for horses is figuring out whether the horse is actually comfortable. This procedure would be an immediate solution. However, research on impulsivity predicts that the horses will make short-term choice, and that the blanket they want at the moment might not be suitable for conditions later.


What is the Matching Law?

First described in detail in a1961 article by Richard Herrnstein, matching law says that responses are distributed among alternatives in proportion to the relative amounts reward obtained on each alternative. If you get 1/3 of your reward on behavior A, and 2/3 on B, you will devote 1/3 of your effort to A and 2/3 to B.

Archive of The Behavior Analyst

View the contents of all back issues from 1978-2013 (vol. 1)

Hear Verbal Summator Files by B.F. Skinner

The Verbal Summator was a device created in the early 1930s by B.F. Skinner to present random speech sounds. Now we would use computer to do this.  Skinner had to adapt what was then called an "indexing phonograph"-- record player designed to drop the needle in a specific groove.  Dubbed an "Auditory Rorschach," listeners would seem to hear meaningful speech within what was actually meaningless output.

See also:

Rutherford, A. (2003).  B.F. Skinner and the auditory inkblot: The rise and fall of the verbal summator as a projective technique. History of Psychology, 6(4), 362-378.

Skinner, B.F. (1936).  The verbal summator and a method for the study of latent speech. Journal of Psychology, 2(1), 71-107.

Archive of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA)

View the contents of all back issues from 1968-2012.

Archive of the Analysis of Verbal Behavior

View the contents of all back issues from 1985-2013 (vol. 1) and issues of Verbal Behavior News 1982-1983

Ok, Pigeons Can Play Ping-Pong. Now Let's Read the Rest of Skinner's "Two Synthetic Social Relations."

Everyone seems fascinated by the pigeons B.F. Skinner taught to play a version of ping-pong. But, that was the not the most important part of his article, "Two 'Synthetic' Social Relations." It was just the introduction.

Basically, if you teach a couple of pigeons to peck at a ping-pong ball, and then put them on opposite sides of a small table, they will "play" ping-pong. That was a big deal at the time because the hand shaping of behavior was new.  But, conceptually there aren't a lot of implications.

The second part of the article is the one to really pay attention to.  What Skinner did was set up a contingency that required two pigeons separated by a pane of glass to peck corresponding keys at the same time.  One pigeon spontaneously became a "leader," looking for which one of three keys produced food.  The other pigeon, the "follower," came to mirror the behavior of the leader very closely, and the two seemed to be mirror images. This behavior generalized, and the pigeons would seem to mirror other behaviors as well. The follower pigeon showed the ability to engage in new forms of behavior simply by seeing them in the leader.

Why is this very important?  Skinner had demonstrated how sophisticated generalized imitation can be established quickly with just contingent reward for imitating a relatively simple response. If a bird can do it, why not a child?

BAAM Statement of Purpose


The Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan* has been organized to support and promote scientific research on the basic principles of behavior and the extension of those principles to create demonstrably effective and humane outcome-based therapies with the primary goal of establishing and enhancing functional independent living skills.

*BAAM is a state affiliate of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and is sponsored by the Eastern Michigan University Psychology Department.

Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197