Donald A. Hantula, Ph.D. : Introduction to Behavioral Economics (2007)

2.o Level II CE Credits

About the presentation:

The second release in our Continuing Education (CE/CEU) program, this talk was originally filmed on May 29, 2007 in San Diego on the last day of the ABAI convention.

The Cambridge Center is fortunate in having more than one leader in behavioral economics among its Trustees: Steve Hursh and Donald Hantula. Several years ago, Dr. Hursh addressed the annual CCBS Trustees meeting, and presented “Behavioral Economics and the Future of Behavior Analysis.” We later posted the Powerpoint slides from that presentation here on as a resource, and they consistently rank high in popularity year after year. Many of us first heard the term “behavioral economics” by reading Hursh’s papers in JEAB.

In 2004, the Cambridge Center and Temple University jointly hosted “What Works in Behavioral Economics – Practical and Policy Issues” Don Hantula was the conference organizer and a presenter, as were Steve Hursh, George Ainslie, Mark Dixon, and many others, talking about how a behavioral economist looks at problems like consumer behavior, gambling, and drug abuse.

At our Annual Meeting in 2006, Don agreed to make this presentation before our cameras in San Diego. You’ll find his presentation informative, to the point, and well-explained for the behavior analyst. Hantula talked about the origins of behavioral economics and the distinctions between that viewpoint and traditional economics. He discussed the economics of behavioral situations, and explained the differences between open and closed economies. Next, he talked about models of choice in behavioral vs. traditional economics, and related it to work by Herrnstein and many others on the Matching Law. Finally, he discussed delayed discounting and hyperbolic curves, and why that explained some things that otherwise wouldn’t make sense.

When asked how behavioral economics was relevant to the ABA practitioner, Don answered “Are your reinforcers not reinforcing? Are you seeing problem behaviors going on in your classrooms that you can’t figure out how to address? Are you seeing people making choices that you cannot understand? Behavioral economics will provide a way to make sense of this, and also provide a way to analyze a situation and develop new and innovative interventions to change the behaviors of interest and improve the lives of the people with whom you are working.”

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