Exploring and describing multiscale activities: Scaling up behaviour analysis
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Behaviour analysis aims to understand functional relations between environmental contingencies and behaviour. Since Skinner’s development of the operant as a unit of analysis for individual behavioural selection, behaviour analysis has largely had a molecular focus on environmental antecedents and immediate consequences that shape and maintain the operant. Multiscale behaviourism and teleological behaviourism have molar approaches to understanding behaviour. They rather define units of behaviour as multiscale processes of activities whereby a large scale activity occurring fluidly over time may take the form of a hierarchy within which functionally related smaller scale patterns of activities may be nested. Understanding the nature of patterns of behaviour occurring within a multiscale activity and their aggregate effects may enable behaviour analysis to place behaviour in a more coherent narrative within the contingencies that they naturally occur. The articles presented here explore the theoretical basis of multiscale activities and investigate whether they may contain definable scales and measurable patterns of behaviour. Article 1 is a theoretical article which discusses the current theories that describe multiscale activities as tools to analyse behaviour, it examines their internal consistency and external validity before refining their theoretical constructs. Article 2 is a descriptive empirical study grounded in multiscale theory. It is an initial attempt to define and measure patterns of behaviour occurring within a predefined multiscale activity in an experimental setting. Taken together, this thesis presents an expansion on the multiscale activity theory which may contribute to scaling up behaviour analysis.
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