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How To Think Straight About Consciousness – Video Archive


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General Information

Title: How To Think Straight About Consciousness

Presented By: Henry D. Schlinger, Jr., Ph.D., BCBA-D

  • Registration: For Membership only
  • Recording Available:  Once you access the video you have 30 days to complete the webinar.  This includes downloading materials and submitting the codes. 


Consciousness has bedeviled philosophers and psychologists for centuries. Recently, cognitive neuroscientists have been looking for the neural correlates of consciousness. Some philosophers have even suggested that plants can have consciousness! The problem is, and has been, that there is no agreed-upon definition of consciousness, which is understandable because scholars interested in consciousness treat it as a hypothetical construct. Thus, after centuries of trying, consciousness scholars are no closer to understanding consciousness.

The primary objectives of this webinar are to 1) briefly describe the historical and traditional approaches to and interpretations of consciousness; 2) critically analyze those conceptions according to certain errors of logic, including nominal fallacy, circular reasoning, and reification; 3) discuss the implications of those errors for explaining what we speak of as “consciousness” parsimoniously; and 4) offer a functional analysis of “consciousness” in terms of some of the behaviors that evoke the term as a verbal response. The result is a parsimonious approach to understanding what is often spoken of as “consciousness” that does not rely on inferring unobserved hypothetical constructs.

Learning Objectives

1. Identify some of the main historical antecedents to the traditional view of consciousness as well as the main components of that traditional view, and how modern consciousness scholars view consciousness.
2. Identify the problems inherent in discussing consciousness in terms of brain processes.
3. Identify the logical errors of nominal fallacy, circular reasoning/explanations, and reification, and their implications for a parsimonious view of consciousness.
4. Identify (a) a behavioral approach to consciousness in terms of the actual behaviors involved (i.e., be able to answer the question, What is someone doing when she is said to be “conscious or self-aware”?), (b) why there are quotation marks around “consciousness,” and (c) what we speak of as “consciousness,” in other words, a functional analysis in terms of what behaviors can be observed when we say someone is described as being “conscious.”
5. Identify how we learn to become conscious of our environment and of ourselves.
6. Identify implications of a functional analysis of “consciousness,” as well as the behaviors that cause us to say that someone is conscious (or self-aware), for example, for artificial intelligence.

Presenter Bio and Disclosure Statement

Henry D. (Hank) Schlinger Jr. received his Ph.D. in psychology (applied behavior analysis) from Western Michigan University (WMU) under the supervision of Jack Michael. He then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology also at WMU with Alan Poling. Dr. Schlinger was a full tenured professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. He is now professor of psychology and former director of the M. S. Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Schlinger has published more than 75 scholarly articles and commentaries in more than 30 different journals. He also has authored or co-authored three books, Psychology: A Behavioral Overview (1990), A Behavior-Analytic View of Child Development (1995) (which was translated into Japanese), and Introduction to Scientific Psychology (1998). He is past editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and The Behavior Analyst and sits on the editorial boards of several other journals. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies and on the Advisory Board of The Venus Project ( He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University in 2012, and the Jack Michael Award for Outstanding Contributions in Verbal Behavior from the Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis International in 2015.

The presenter(s) and/or presenters’ family members do not have financial arrangement or affiliation with any of the products, organizations, or programs mentioned during this talk.    The presenter does not receive speaker fees for this webinar. 

Credit Hour Information

BCBAs  earn 2 CEUS  for viewing recording.

Psychologists earn  1.5 CEs for viewing the recording

  • Must pass post-test with 80% or above and submit all attendance codes
  • CEs not available for other professions

For ABAC’s continuing education approvals statements please view our Continuing Education page


This webinar is 2 hours long. It begins with a short intro and the presenter starts speaking soon after. At the end of the event, participants are required to submit an evaluation, take and pass a post-test and submit attendance codes.