What is the Association for Behaviour Analysis International?


The Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI) is a professional association of psychologists, educators, and practitioners whose scholarship and practice derive from the work of B.F. Skinner.

ABAI organises conferences in the US and abroad, publishes journals, and offers accreditation programs for behaviour analysis training programmes. As of March 2021, ABAI has 97 regional associate chapters both in the United States and abroad, many of which offer their own annual conferences. As of 2019, ABAI had over 9,000 members and membership in its affiliate chapters was greater than 28,000.

Refer to Clinical Behaviour Analysis, Applied Behaviour Analysis, and Licensed Behaviour Analyst.

Brief History

The Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI) was founded in 1974 as the MidWestern Association for Behaviour Analysis (MABA) to serve as an interdisciplinary group of professionals, paraprofessionals, and students. Behaviour analysis was well-represented in the Midwest of the US, but many behaviour analysts were disappointed with the level of support their relatively new field received at the existing psychology conferences. Gerald Mertens and Israel Goldiamond organised the first two-day conference, which was held at the University of Chicago, and speakers included, Sidney Bijou, James Dinsmoor, Roger Ulrich and Goldiamond.

MABA’s first headquarters were located on the campus of Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. By 1977, the annual conference was extended four days and included 550 events, and MABA had grown to 1,190 members from 42 states and five foreign countries.

In 1978, MABA began publishing its first journal, The Behaviour Analyst (renamed Perspectives in Behavioural Science in 2018), and in 1979, the organisation changed its name to the Association for Behaviour Analysis (ABA), subsequently adopting the name Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI). In 2001, it sponsored its first international meeting in Venice, Italy.

Association for Behaviour Analysis (ABA) began offering APA credits for the first time in 1994, at their 20th Annual Convention in Atlanta, GA. While the BACB solidified itself in the field, ABA offered its first BACB credits in 2000 at their 26th Annual Convention in Washington, DC.



ABAI organises conferences related to the theory and practice of behaviour analysis. In addition to the annual conference, which is held at a location in the US or Canada, every other year, ABAI hosts an international conference. The association also holds an annual autism conference and has hosted several single-track conferences on topics of special interest to behaviour analysts, such as theory and philosophy, climate change, behavioural economics, and education.

Many conference sessions offer approved continuing education credits (CEUs) for practitioners who wish to maintain their professional certification. Among the organisations that approve ABAI presentations for CEU credit are the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board.

Accreditation Programme

ABAI operates an accreditation programme for universities offering master’s and doctoral degrees in behaviour analysis. Degree programs that achieve ABAI accreditation meet the organization’s standards of training and will satisfy the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board requirements to achieve certification as a behaviour analyst.

Society for the Advancement of Behaviour Analysis

ABAI is supported by the Society for the Advancement of Behaviour Analysis (SABA), a 501(c)(3) organisation that accepts tax-exempt charitable contributions. SABA maintains a number of funds to support research in child development, international development, public awareness of behavioural science, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. SABA also provides grants to support student research, student travel to the annual ABAI conference, and graduate research focused on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Position Statements

As of 2021, ABAI had released six policy statements on: right to effective behavioural treatment (1989), student’s right to effective education (1990), facilitated communication (1995), restraint and seclusion (2010), sexual harassment (2019), and commitment to equity (2020).


SABA administers an awards programme at the annual convention of ABAI that recognises distinguished service to behaviour analysis, scientific translation, international dissemination of behaviour analysis, effective presentation of behaviour analysis in the mass media, and enduring programmatic contributions to behaviour analysis. Past recipients of the award for distinguished service to behaviour analysis include Sidney Bijou, James Dinsmoor, A. Charles Catania, Jack Michael and Murray Sidman.


The Association of Applied Behaviour Analysis International publishes six peer-reviewed journals.

  • Perspectives on Behaviour Science, is ABAI’s first journal, published from 1978-2017 as The Behaviour Analyst. It is a semiannual journal publishing articles on theoretical, experimental, and applied topics in behaviour analysis, including literature reviews, re-interpretations of published data, and articles on behaviourism as a philosophy.
  • The Analysis of Verbal Behaviour is a collection of experiments and theoretical papers regarding verbal behaviour and applied behaviour analysis.
  • Behaviour Analysis in Practice is a peer-reviewed journal that includes articles on how to efficiently practice applied behaviour analysis.
  • The Psychological Record includes articles concerning behavioural analysis, behavioural science, and behaviour theory. It was founded in 1937 by Jacob Robert Kantor. Its first experimental area editor was B.F. Skinner. After being published most recently at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, the journal was adopted as an official publication of ABAI. The Psychological Record publishes empirical and conceptual articles related to the field of behaviour analysis, behaviour science, and behaviour theory.
  • Behaviour and Social Issues, is an interdisciplinary journal publishing articles analysing human social behaviour, particularly with regard to understanding and influencing significant social problems such as social justice, human rights, and sustainability.
  • Education and Treatment of Children.

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