Day 1, Session 2: Punishment is NOT a Negative Procedure! (1.5 hrs)

Punishment is a very controversial topic in applied behavior analysis today. Because reinforcement, antecedent manipulations, and certain skill acquisition procedures are often described as “positive,” the implication is that punishment procedures must be “negative.” Some procedures – mostly those described as “positive” – are also characterized as “natural,” with the implication that they’re automatically good, or at least benign. Well, that’s not the case at all. The terms “positive,” “negative,” and “natural” in this context are more political in nature than scientific or logical, and carry with them more baggage than a fully loaded 747. Punishment has undeniably become ABA’s redheaded stepchild, and typically invokes the wrath of the the “positively” enlightened.
To be discussed:
• Misconceptions about reinforcers and punishers
• Problems with punishers and reinforcers
• Punishment and coercion
• Punishment is all around us, necessary, and beneficial
• Problems in using “typical” punishers with atypical individuals
• Problems caused by aversives in general
• Benefits of learning to tolerate avervises
• Teaching people how to “handle” aversives

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