Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
As behavior analysts, our scientific philosophy is inherently pragmatic. If you are a Skinnerian, you subscribe to his Radical Behavioral goals of prediction and influence of behavior. If you are a Functional Contextualist, you subscribe to the similar analytic goals of successful working. They both have a historical lineage in the psychological school of Functionalism, championed most notably by William James and others.
In short, we are interested in doing things – making change in the world. We emphasize pragmatic outcomes over mere “understanding” disconnected from practical utility (i.e., behavior change). We achieve “understanding” through processes that change behavior. That is our truth criterion.
Our end goal:
Ultimately, our end goal is outlined in Skinner’s vision – a technology of behavior for the world. By this he called upon us to extrapolate basic behavioral principles “at will” to the world at large. In doing so, he understood the intimate role behavior plays in most of the pressing issues facing our world, and in their solutions.
In order to do this, we need to face a fundamental truth – behavior analysts, like everyone else, have to make a living to pay their mortgage and feed their kids.. Thus, if the field is to diversify, we need to create new jobs. Job creation means seeking out demand for products and services informed by behavioral science across global markets. The end goal is to integrate behavior analysts into every industry on the planet, and to put behavior analysts at the forefront of emerging markets.
Where to look:
To do this, we first need to know where to look, and we have at least three broad frameworks. The first are the various economic sectors, which vary from 3-5 depending on the models used. They are as follows:
The Primary Sector: Industries concerned with the production of raw materials and basic foods, such as agriculture and mining.
The Secondary Sector: Industries concerned with finished goods from raw materials, such as manufacturing, construction, petroleum refineries, and the like.
The Tertiary Sector: This is the service industry, which sells the goods provided by the first two sectors, and provides various services to the other sectors. This includes, retail, media, banking, tourism, etc… According to ThoughtCo, approx. 80% of the U.S. workforce is found here.
Some economists further subdivide the above sectors into five, which are related to the Tertiary sector, and include the following:
The Quarternary Sector: The knowledge economy, which includes government, education, research, etc…
The Quinary Sector: The highest level of decision making in an economy, including leaders in government, science, business, media, etc…
The financial world also divides the global economy into various sectors to diversify and hedge investment portfolios according to the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). The GICS has 11 broad sectors, 24 industry groups, 68 industries, and 157 sub-industries.
A similar classification system was developed by Dow Jones and the Financial Times Stock Exchange Group, the latter of which is owned by the London Stock Exchange. The system, known as the Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB), delineates 10 industries, comprised of 18 super-sectors, which are comprised of 39 sectors, and 104 subsectors.
A way forward.
The above-mentioned sectors give us a map of potential growth areas for the field. What they don’t provide, however, is information on market demand. They are simply classification schemes – a topographical framework for structuring the world around us. However, every sector is in a constant state of flux, with business cycles fluctuating according to the basic principles of supply and demand.
In future articles, I will further discuss markets within the global economy, as well as how to identify potential growth sectors in our global behavioral system. You can also expect further long-term developments on this theme as we prepare a white paper on the integration of behavior analysts into global markets, and continue to build partnerships and infrastructure to help make this vision a reality – something that behavior analysts are eager to pursue.
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is a science writer, social philosopher, behavioral systems analyst, and the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which aims to connect behavioral science to the world in an engaging, non-academic way. Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar. He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues. His publications follow a theme of behavioral systems analysis, organizational performance, theory & philosophy, and language & cognition. He has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org