The New Zealand Association for Behaviour Analysis

By Neville Blampied, MS

NZABA became an affiliated chapter with The Association for Behavior Analysis International only in December, 2003. But, while NZABA may have a short history, it has a relatively long past. Behaviour analysis, in the form of the experimental analysis of behaviour, was introduced to New Zealand academic life in the immediate post-World War II period. By the early 1970’s, research activity was sufficiently vigorous and widespread for there to be regular symposia devoted to behavioural research at the annual meeting of the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS). In 1972 this was recognised by the formation of the Division for Behaviour Analysis within the NZPsS. For about a decade thereafter, the Division continued to organise conference symposia and publish a newsletter for members. It was at these meetings that important developments in behaviour analysis, such as Michael Davison’s behavioural model of signal detection and Geoffrey White’s direct model of memory were first presented. During this time applied behaviour analysis also became well-established and increasingly visible within the activities of the Division.

Over time, however, tensions grew between the Division membership and the parent organization (NZPsS), associated with the growing focus of the Society on professional and applied matters. In the end, New Zealand behaviour analysts largely abandoned the NZPsS and the Division for Behaviour Analysis, in favour of a stand-alone, informal interest group. This group continued to organize an annual meeting, although in contrast with the situation in the 1980’s, this became focussed almost exclusively on experimental research. Michael Davison’s election as an international representative to the Council of ABA International stimulated discussion of forming a more formal organization, culminating in the application for affiliated chapter status in 2003.

NZABA continues to serve the behaviour analysis community in New Zealand in a variety of ways. We hold an annual meeting, scheduled for 2004 at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, from 3rd to 5th September. We also actively facilitate the visits of behaviour analysts from other countries (Michael Keenan of the University of Ulster, Coleraine, and Billy Baum from UC Davis visited in 2003, and Ray Pitts and Chris Hughes from the University of North Carolina have visited in 2004). We also encourage members to consider achieving Board Certified Behaviour Analyst status, and otherwise strive to promote behaviour analysis in New Zealand, while reaching out to behaviour analysts internationally, especially in Australia and the circum-Pacific region.

More information may be obtained from any members of the NZABA Executive Committee:

Neville M Blampied, President
Anthony McLean. Anthony.mclean@canterbury.ac.nz
Randy Grace. Randolph.grace@canterbury.ac.nz