Psychopathology as a result of selection by consequences exemplified by autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


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Norsk atferdsanalytisk forening

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B. F. Skinner is one of the most important 20th century psychologists, and the 1981 paper Selection by Consequences is among his most important contributions. In this paper, Skinner integrates evolutionary biology with psychology, sociology and anthropology. More specifically, Skinner shows how selection by consequences operates on the shaping and maintenance of the behavior of the individual (i.e., psychology) as well as on the evolution of cultures (sociology and anthropology). Selection by consequences on the individual and cultural levels makes the foundation for behavior analysis, which is a broad interdisciplinary natural science. In this paper, I will focus on selection of the behavior of the individual. Specifically, I will focus on how consequences may select abnormal behavior, as exemplified by a hypothesis of how the behaviors defining Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may be shaped and maintained through selection by consequences. Skinner asserted that selection has been neglected and that causal force has been assigned to structures instead. He exemplified this using cognitive psychology, Freudian psychology, Gestalt psychology and anthropology, but he did not address specifically how abnormal behavior may be understood based on the principle of selection by consequences.




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