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Addressing Social and Global Issues: Viewing the Syrian Refugee Crisis Through a Behavior-Analytic Lens

  • Sonia LevyEmail author
  • Janani Vaidya
  • Jamine Dettmering
  • Amy N. Siebold
  • Cam Mittelman
  • Joshua Garner
Article

Abstract

In a 1982 address, B. F. Skinner asked a question that is still relevant today: Why are we not acting to save the world? Watching any news station will reveal a number of current global and social issues that our world is facing including, but not limited to, poverty, genocide, and climate change. Although there have been attempts to resolve these issues, these problems continue to cost lives and threaten the planet. These human-created problems are complex in terms of influencing factors and the human behavior involved and, therefore, require an objective, systematic approach. Behavior analysis is a science that studies environmental variables influencing human behavior, which allows for the prediction and creation of interventions that change behavior in a socially significant way. The present article uses the Syrian refugee crisis to illustrate how the principles of behavior analysis, specifically relational frame theory, Glenn’s (2004, “Individual Behavior, Culture, and Social Change,” The Behavior Analyst, 27, 133–151) analysis of macrobehavior and metacontingencies, and Goldiamond’s nonlinear analysis (1974, “Toward a Constructional Approach to Social Problems: Ethical and Constitutional Issues Raised by Applied Behavior Analysis,” Behaviorism, 2, 1–84), could be used to address global and social issues. The authors propose a model that may be used to analyze other social or global issues using behavior-analytic principles. This article is intended to demonstrate the breadth of potential applications of behavior-analytic principles and to serve as a call to action to the field to research interventions to address current social and global issues.

Keywords

Behavior analysis Social issues Syrian refugee crisis Relational frame theory Metacontingencies nonlinear contingencies 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This article has not been previously published and is not under consideration for another journal.

Conflict of Interest

There are no conflicts or dualities of interest related to this manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyChicagoUSA

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