Marketing Topics: Behavior Analysis

MAR523 Marketing Topics: Behavior Analysis

  • Topics


    The course provides an overview of behavior analysis as a research discipline, its areas of application, and of some basic tenets of the field: determinism, monism and probabilistic causality. The basic experimental concepts are introduced, and extensions to daily life situations are given, through practical exercises and discussions. The utility of the behavior analytic approach is demonstrated through research literature and case histories, with performance improvement as a main focus. The systems perspective is introduced as another selectionist approach, at another level of analysis but with the same generic conceptual framework.

    Day 1

    Behavior analysis and common research problems with adjacent fields. Distinguishing behavior analysis from other research traditions in psychology and organizational behavior.

    ·The selectionist perspective

    ·Demonstration of functional relations

    ·Prediction and control

    ·Category errors and mentalist explanatory models


    Day 2

    General lawfulness in selection processes, with an emphasis on behavioral (ontogenic) selection. Introduction to basic concepts


    ·Classical conditioning

    ·Selection of behavior and the concept of the operant

    ·Schedules of reinforcement

    ·Shaping and extinction of behavior

    ·Interaction between contingency-shaped and rule-governed behavior

    Day 3

    General lawfulness in relations between environment and behavior - selection of behavior. Basic concepts continued.

    ·Discrimination and generalization

    ·Private events

    ·Verbal behavior

    Day 4

    Learning in complex systems

    ·The relational perspective

    ·Complexity, science and society


    ·Complex Adaptive Systems

    ·Behavior in systems

    Day 5

    Behavioral systems approach. Capitalizing on behavior analysis in understanding systems

    ·Organizational behavior management (OBM)

    ·Organizational behavior variation

    ·The selection of cultures, metacontingencies

    ·Behavioral perspective on function, structure and processes.


  • Teaching


    Intensive course.Teaching March 29th-April 1st 2011.

  • Assessment


    Individual paper.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading Scale

    Grading: Pass or fail

  • Objective/course outline

    Objective/course outline

    Behavior analysis provides a coherent conceptual framework for understanding, predicting and influencing individual behavior (e.g. consumers and members of an organization), and has a number of applications in fields that address performance improvement and organizational behavior management (such as marketing, organization behavior, services marketing, etc.)


    The course provides the students with

    ·an introduction to basic concepts of behavior analysis,

    ·a framework for integrating basic behavioral principles into an understanding of complex repertoires,

    ·an understanding of behavior analysis as a selectionist science, and

    ·a platform for integrating behavior analysis and complexity theory with an emphasis on complex adaptive systems.


    Basic conceptual issues are discussed, along with extensions of experimental findings to real life situations. The growing field of cultural selection research is presented.


    -Students will describe and discuss basic concepts such as contingencies of reinforcement and punishment and extinction; discrimination; generalization; schedules of reinforcement; verbal behavior; rule-governed and contingency shaped behavior, and conditioned reinforcement.

    -Students will describe and discuss basic concepts of a selectionist account of behavior, and discuss extensions of selectionist theory to the systems and cultures level.

    -Students will describe and discuss relevant research strategies, exemplified with the single-subject research design.

    -Students will discuss the concept of category errors, dualism, summary labels and explanatory fictions, and recognize circular definitions and nominal fallacies.


  • Semester


    Spring 2011.


  • Literature


    - Aldrich, H. D., & Ruef, M. (2006). Organizations evolving. Thousand Oaks: Sage. (Ch. 2, pp 16 - 33)


    - Baum, W. M. (2005) Understanding behaviorism. Behavior, culture and evolution.
    New York: Blackwell Publishing


    - Glenn, S. S. & Malott, M. E. (2004) Complexity and selection: implications for organizational change
    Behavior and Social Issues, 13, 89-106


    - Holth, P. (2001) The persistence of category errors in psychology
    Behavior and Philosophy 29, 203-219


    - Sandaker, I. (2009) A selectionist perspective on systemic and behavioral change in organizations
    Journal of Organizational Behavior Management 29:3,276 ¿ 293


    - Skinner, B. F. 1981 Selection by consequences
    Science, 213, (4507) 501-504.


    - Skinner B. F. (1984) The evolution of behavior
    Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior 41, 217-221


    Recommended readings:

    - Pryor, K. (2002). Don't shoot the dog! The new art of teaching and training (3rd ed.)
    Lydney: Ringpress Books Ltd.


    - Sutherland, A. (2009). What Shamu taught me about life, love, and marriage: Lessons for people from animals and their trainers. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Course responsible

Professor Ingunn Sandaker, Akershus University College.