Constructional interactions between humans and other animals

Dr. Jesús Rosales-Ruiz
Presentation given at the 2016 Conference

Increasingly, humans have become part of the lives of other animals and other animals have become part of our lives. The ways in which people and animals interact have changed over time as our understanding of animals’ physical, emotional, and intellectual needs continues to evolve. Currently, many domestic animals and captive exotic animals are dependent on humans for food, water, shelter, and other necessities. Although the same laws of nature apply to all living organisms, each animal, like each human, is a unique individual because the animal’s behavior and personality reflects the environmental conditions in which the animal lives. Thus, it is imperative that we understand each animal’s individual needs so that we can construct environments that produce optimal interactions between people and animals. But how do we do this? This presentation will describe an approach derived from Skinner’s functional analysis of behavior that will help us understand the nature of our current interactions with our animals and that can also help us improve these interactions and the animal’s quality of life. This approach is known as constructional behavior analysis (Goldiamond, 1974).

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