Division 25 of the American Psychological Association
The Executive Committee of Division 25 proposes the following Bylaws change
to the membership. The rationale
for this proposal follows the proposed changes.
Proposed that Article I of the Bylaws of the division, which now reads:
You may vote by mailing this ballot, with a valid signature, to Carol Pilgrim
at the address below before 1 August 1998. FAX and e-mail ballots will not
I certify that I am eligible to vote on this proposal (I am a Member or
Fellow of the division)
The third installment of a history of Division 25 by the Division archivist, James T. Todd, appeared in the Summer 1997 issue of the Division 25 Recorder (Volume 32, Number 2). It included a section entitled Division Name Change (pp. 6-7). Here are some excerpts from that section:
According to the Bylaws (Article 1, section 1), the official name of the Divisions the Division for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, a Division of the American Psychological Association. This name was selected because it was believed to describe accurately the interests and composition of the members of the Division at its founding. Over time, however, the characteristics of behavior analysis as a discipline changed. By the mid-1970s, the number of applied behavior analysts began to exceed the number of basic researchers. When the Division took on its increasingly activist posture, the apparent discrepancy between its experimentally oriented designation and increasingly applied character became an issue.... Even so, in 1986, the Executive Committee felt that changing the name of the division might be a mistake....
In its August 1997 meeting, the Executive Committee of Division 25 returned to this issue.... In the Committee discussion this time, there was virtually no dissent from the proposition that the name of our Division does not adequately reflect the range of activities of the Division membership. Indeed, experimental criteria remain paramount, as applied behavior analysts collect data, examine procedures, and provide accountability for methodologies and outcomes. But the question is whether Experimental Analysis of Behavior, or EAB, remains the best name for those activities. It would be nice if the term experimental were irrelevant to the classification of the activities of all behavior analysts. But once a discrimination has been established with respect to some properties in some contexts, it will probably generalize to those properties in other contexts unless explicit contingencies for conditional stimulus control are arranged....
Even though there need not be boundaries between basic and applied behavior analysis, effective conditions for maintaining a discrimination between some behavior analysts who call themselves experimental and others who call themselves applied were engendered and have been maintained by the titles on the mastheads of two of the primary journals of our field. We are all familiar with them (I list them in the order of their founding): the JOURNAL OF THE EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR, and the JOURNAL OF APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS. Perhaps the history of our field would have been different if the implicit experimental foundations of each had stayed explicit in both titles, and the original JEAB had become two journals, one the JOURNAL OF THE BASIC EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR and the other the JOURNAL OF THE APPLIED EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR. As acronyms, JBEAB and JAEAB would not have come so trippingly off the tongue as JEAB and JABA, but the distinction between basic and applied would not have been conflated with that between experimental and applied.
We cannot rewrite that history, but we can address the
issue. What's in a name? Usually, some degree of stimulus control, and probably
more often conditional than unconditional. The Executive Committee of Division
25 has determined that it is time to change the Division name so that it is more
consistent with the naming that operates for behavior analysis as it is
conducted in settings other than the APA. To that end, the membership will be
asked to vote on a change in the Division Bylaws in the coming year, in the hope
that the Division for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior can become the
Division for Behavior Analysis....