Improving Well-Being and Life Satisfaction with Humanistic Behaviorism

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This talk was filmed at the 2019 Leadership and Supervision Conference at The University of Kansas

About the presentation:

The term “humanistic behaviorism” was popular in the 1970’s, but has rarely been used since. However, B.F. Skinner affirmed in 1978 that “behaviorism makes it possible to achieve the goals of humanism more effectively.” Relatedly, the presenter has combined fundamentals of behaviorism (e.g., positive reinforcement, observational learning, and behavior-based feedback) with select principles from humanism (e.g., empathy, self-determination theory, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs) to enhance and sustain positive relations between teachers and students, parents and children, work supervisors and employees, and between police officers and the citizens they serve. The presenter claims that effective leaders practice humanistic behaviorism, in contrast to managers who essentially hold people accountable with extrinsic contingencies. This presentation will review the presenter’s attempts to improve human welfare on a large scale—first with applied behavioral science, and subsequently with humanistic behaviorism—leading to his belief that “humanism makes it possible to achieve the goals of behaviorism more effectively.” Domains of application to be highlighted from the presenter’s 50 years of intervention development and evaluation include: environmental preservation, prison management for death-row inmates, vehicle safety and road rage, occupational health and safety, and the cultivation of an actively-caring-for-people (AC4P) culture in educational facilities, organizations, and the community at large (see and

Learning Objectives Participants will be able to:

  1. Define select principles from humanism that need to be practiced by ABA therapists working with individuals, organizations, and communities
  2. Participate as a leader of the worldwide Actively Caring for People (AC4P) Movement
  3. Explain practical differences between management and leadership with real world examples

About the presenter:

Scott Geller, Ph.D. is an Alumni Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech. For 50 years, Professor Geller has taught and conducted research as a faculty member and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech. He has authored, coauthored, or edited 49 books, 88 book chapters, 38 training manuals, 270 magazine articles, and over 300 research articles addressing the development and evaluation of applied behavioral science interventions to improve quality of life. His most recent 700-page textbook: Applied Psychology: Actively Caring for People, defines Dr. Geller’s entire research, teaching, and scholarship career at Virginia Tech, which epitomizes the VT logo: Ut Prosim–“That I May Serve”. He has received lifetime achievement awards from the International Organizational Behavior Management Network (in 2008) and the American Psychological Foundation (in 2009). In 2011, the College of Wooster awarded Dr. Geller the Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane letters. Scott Geller received a prestigious teaching award in 1982 from the American Psychological Association, and since then he has received every university-wide teaching award offered at Virginia Tech. In 2005, he was awarded the statewide Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education, and that year Virginia Tech conferred the title of Alumni Distinguished Professor on him.