Thought Leaders 019 - Dr. Darnell Lattal - Part 1

Thank you for your patience! We are sorry about the delay....someone spilled tea on her computer.

This month on Operant Innovations - Thought Leaders, we are back with Dr. Darnell Lattal as she answers tells us about her history with familial ties to the military after WW2 and the human rights movements and how that drove her to the field of behavior analysis. Ultimately, becoming one of the first women in the field of Organizational Behavior Management. 


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Shauna Costello (00:01):

You're listening to Operant Innovations. A podcast brought to you by ABA Technologies. This month on Thought Leaders, we are speaking with Dr. Darnell Lattal as she talks about her history and how she became one of the first women in the field of organizational behavior management. So without further ado, Dr. Darnell Lattal.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (00:23):

Shauna, you just asked me how did I get into this field of behavior analysis and what was my journey along that path. I never intended, if one has such driven things in life, to become a behavior analyst. I started out very interested in other kinds of things, and I'll describe that ever so briefly, but I've always been interested and shaped by things having to do with aggression, threat, fear, that sort of thing. Not in my personal upbringing. My parents were very kind and good people, but they exposed me to a lot of situations over the time I was growing up that caused me, for whatever reasons, to want to know more about this thing that we do to one another and I've thought about it. And of course, whenever one does a retrospective on one's life, it's very hard because I'm going to say what I want to say and think might have influenced me, but probably really in fact, it's very difficult to speak about what shapes you from the past. However, I'll give you my rolled up assumptions about how I got to be here. It's dangerous to define such events in my life as cause all to future, but I'll try anyway. And when I think about it, there were at least three major events growing up that influenced my choices along life's way. I will also talk to you a bit about some principles that I derive from behavior analysis that made me want to, with great passion, become a behavior analyst. And this occurred early in my twenties when I became passionately committed to behavior analysis, and I've never looked back. And I'm far, far away from being in my early twenties today. In the 1960s.. I'm sorry. In the fifties, my father, when he was a head of a historical division in the US Air Force and we went to Germany and during those four years in Germany, he was doing a history of the German Luftwaffa, which was the air force. During World War II and some of the things they did and also exploring their rationale, their rules of conduct, what led them as military officers to do some things that looking back, they all expressed great horror about being associated with. But in fact, did do some things that do this... You can see in some of their writings that I saw later when I was an adult, were used to justify some things they did, but at the time they were very much interested in the kind of olive branch that the Americans were offering to them to come in and take command without any guns. They could have no military weapons, but they took command of the German military in the fifties. That wasn't a very long time after World War II. And so it did show a kind of noble sense that people can change at least at a very large cultural level. My father was extremely interested in people. Not so much judging them as learning from them. So we'd have these ruckus parties with a lot of martinis and they were put into the freezer so they'd be just perfect. These German generals would come over and have a grand time. And they got to be our friends, as well as his associates. But during that time, I learned a lot about what was going on. They were insistent that I learned the good, the bad and the ugly along with my brother. And so we did, and what I learned was that there is something about the situations that people are in, but I didn't understand that. I truly didn't. I just saw it as, "Oh. So you're in this thing and you're told to do these things, and you do them even though honor and other duties may tell you to do otherwise," but for many of them, there was a lot of self justification. I didn't understand contingencies at all. I was just a child, but I was beginning to understand that people do violence against others. And I went to the concentration camps, the post concentration camps. And I was included in discussions with people who were quite vile actually in life. There was sort of a shield against really, at that age being exposed to the horrors of it all. But it was in my backyard. Although I thought it was quite foreign to me. Then I returned and we then moved to Arlington, Virginia where the story occurred. My father was at the Pentagon and I was at, I remember we had a German professor who, one of the boys in the room wrote on the board a swastika and everybody was laughing and giggling. I felt bad. I could tell this wasn't the right thing to do. I wasn't the only one who felt bad and he walked in and I dearly loved him. And he looked at that, he dropped his books to the floor and he walked out and that shaped me in a very big way. And I thought, "Wow. We do bad things to one another still by attribution." I only learned later that attribution is one of the things that as behavior analysts, we have to look very carefully at. We have to look at what it means to others when we introduce such symbols of hate. He came back, he survived, I survived. The class gave him the Sound of Music, because it has a song in it called "You have to be carefully taught". That was a learning event for me. I ended up going to the University of Alabama and I was in at a time when George Wallace stood in the door house trying to block our black colleagues from entering the schools. And I sat next to Vivian Malone, who has since died. She was the first black woman to enter. And when I went into my economics class, I was told I had to sit in the row behind her or in front of her, or if I chose to sit beside her, I had to sit there the whole class. Oh, I wasn't given permission to sit beside her. I started to go in there and they said, "No. You can sit behind her or in front of her, but you can't sit beside her," which was really weird. But he said to the class, "I don't want there to be disruptions" and all students are welcome in this class. He did something like that. So she and I would drop notes back and forth to each other and walk down the hall after class. And these great white boys would lie in the halls and say all kinds of vile things to her as we walked down the hall. I think they saw me as, I mean, I don't even know if they saw me, but they certainly saw her. And that also kind of got me going. And I got involved in civil rights and went to meetings at Stillman, which is a black college with a minister. Those things all shaped me around this idea that we do violence to one another because of how we look, how we speak, what we believe. That whole German mythology that was so prevalent during World War II about differences among people. I know it's still there. It's certainly here in our country, and these are deep seated triggers for treating each other very, very differently. That started to shape my journey too. But I also was a student of American studies and I wanted to go on and probably seek a law degree. And I thought seriously about that. I was having experiences at Alabama that led way far away. I met Andy in Germany actually, but we met again at the university and at the university, I was only vaguely interested in psychology, but I needed summer employment. So I went to a camp for quote, "emotionally disturbed children" in the mountains. And I learned a lot. I learned about behavior analysis because we were in the very beginnings of using token economies, of shaping environments, of making swimming contingent on toothbrushing, which my husband wrote up. One of his first studies. We had a great time and learned a lot and I married him. Right before I graduated, which was kind of one of those dumb things you do, but you can't wait. So we did. Right after that, I went off to Anna State Hospital where Ted Ayllon and Nate Azrin were doing the first seminal study on what happens if you take away all of the psychotropic meds, if you put these highly diagnosed individuals, schizophrenia, paranoids, all these various definitions of psychosis, and you put them together with no meds, but you use contingencies of reinforcement. I got to go in briefly with Ted Allyon with a clipboard and try to record events. I was working in something called, I think it's recreational therapy at the time just there. They found a job for me and I was doing that, but I got to go see the ward. I got to talk to Ted at length. He later became a very dear friend of mine. Much later, but then we were, he saw me as a student learning. So I was introduced to what we could do and I went on from there to Johns Hopkins for my next course of study. And while there I worked at the verbal conditioning laboratory, which is now well known for what it does in behavior analysis. And I worked with a fellow named Philip Drash, and old time behavior analysts will know him. He had me work with language, with developing words, skills and words. And I saw people who had not talked in full sentences master language very quickly. A young girl on the ward teaching her to walk within a very few moments. It seemed like moments. It was probably two weeks to walk fully independently. And all of these things are little miracles of behavior. And I was completely converted. I had no question and went from there to WVU after being in the mental health community, mental health for awhile, working with children and so on. I went on to get my PhD and I had a Master's in special ed that occurred because they asked me to teach a classroom and you can't teach in Alabama without having an educational ed degree. So I got a Master's, but that was not my desire either. So it all felt like a bypass of where I really wanted to end up, but by the time I got through... While I was there, after I was at Johns Hopkins, Andy was in the army during Vietnam. We moved to his first job as postdoc and then his first job. His postdoc was in California. His first job was at WVU, West Virginia University. I flailed around thinking I still wanted to be a lawyer or a historian. So I was still messing, even though I'd had this conversion experience at Anna State and other places. I applied to history and the Dean, or the chair said, "Women don't do much in this field." It was very depressing after Johns Hopkins, but probably, it made me totally uninterested. Actually, there were a lot of reasons I wasn't interested, but aside from that, I decided that I really did want to pursue psychology. At the time, there was no behavior analysis degree. It was inside a psych department. Luckily, I was at the hotbed of radical behaviorism in the seventies and eighties. When I went back to school in the late seventies, I got my PhD in this hotbed of radicalism, became further converted and decided this was a very noble purpose. And I could indeed begin to understand why we do violence to one another. Why we use threatened fear. What is it about our environments and about learning that conditions us to respond in this way? I then went on, did a couple of other things, in the clinical world. After that, I went to the university, was in the office of the president, did a lot of things around promotion and tenure and miscellaneous stuff. Just kind of trying to figure out what I was going to do. And my former chair approached me. He was now in Chicago and he was running Corporate Behavior Analysts, Inc. He said, "Hey, Darnell. Why don't you come join us? You'll have fun." And I said, "Pooey on business". More or less. You know, when I was a long haired liberal, and I really thought, "Are you kidding me? Do I want to reinforce that stuff?" But of course...

Shauna Costello (15:18):

That's what I was waiting for. I've always known you for the business side.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (15:24):

Yeah. Well, it was late in my life and I suddenly discovered business is run by people too. It was one of those eye-opening events. But anyway, I did join them. I had a wonderful time. It was just the three of us. Linda Hayes joined us, Parrott Hayes joined us briefly. It wasn't exactly her thing, I think so much. But we had a great time together and then we had a couple of miscellaneous other folks along the way. And then something was happening right in Morgantown where we were living and Andy was teaching. And that was the continuous learning group. There were seven of us who joined on at the very beginning of the CLG event at a place in Morgantown to form it. And from that, I stayed with them and worked with CLG for several years, many years. During this time,a friend of mine, who I had known at WVU was now at Aubrey Daniels International. And he said to Aubrey, "You've got to interview her. She'd really be good, bring her down." So that was the story of how I got down to Aubrey. What he said, he called me on the phone and this is the way Aubrey does things. He said, "Hey, I hear you might have interest in working with us." "I might, Aubrey." "Why don't you come on down and start doing that?" I said, "Well, do you want to interview me?" And he said, "I don't need to interview you. You come on down, we'll see what happens." So with some trepidation, I quit my job at CLG. I was traveling all the time though, spending months and months in California. It wasn't exactly being home with hubby and children that I had at that time. So it wasn't necessarily going to be too much different. I flew down there and interviewed with Aubrey and he and I were like ships passing in the night. We had very different views of what behavior analysis was all about. We really didn't communicate at all, but he said, "Hey, why don't you take over our strategic consulting?" And I said, "Oh, okay." I said, "Are you sure you want me to do this?" And he said, "I have no idea, but I let's try." So I did it and it worked out and other things happened along the way. And he asked me to be president and CEO. I spent 14 years in that position having been with him for two before that. And so it was a long experience with Aubrey. It was a wonderful, rich experience. His mantra was positive reinforcement. R plus. And technically he got a lot of abuse from people in the field, but what he meant was if we're in positions of authority or control, we want to ensure that those who manage others do so with the understanding that the way you get discretionary performance is through positive reinforcement. So that's what he really meant by it and he meant, of course, that at times you have to use negative. You have to use threat and fear sometimes not necessarily deliberately, but you have to say, "you need to do this, or else". That kind of thing. On rare occasions, he would try to set the occasion though for seeing what they were doing. And instead of assuming that it was driven by some kind of trade or state say, you need to do more X and X will bring you to Y. And I was a big, one of my mantras was always, it's not your intention that I questioned ii's your effect, and that kind of strategy around looking at how you can use your behavior to shape the way people see you so that it's more positive over time. Moving away from conditions of threat and fear. We dealt with a lot of SOBs or whatever language one could use on a podcast. Those are some of the dudes we dealt with and they were mostly dudes. We were up in New York and we were in all kinds of places and traveled to many countries around the world with Aubrey. That very aggressive folks. I met them in Chicago too, by the way, as we traveled around in the eighties where the, the Wolf of Wall Street was paramount and there were bad things happening. So I'd had a lot of exposure to threat and fear in the workplace and I understood it as one of the conditions that we all lead with. And I'm including us as behavior analysts who run companies. We as a group sometimes say, "We don't do this, but we work hard not to do this." But in fact, contingency seemed to drive us to moving quickly away from what we know about principles of behavior. To say they're willful, they don't want to, all kinds of attribution that we apply to people because of the quality of their work instead of stepping back. So I didn't think that it was necessarily a sainthood I was entering by becoming a behavior analyst. I thought instead it was much more a challenge to begin to see how much I was controlled by the environment that surrounded me. How much my history of learning shapes what I say and do, and that I was no more immune to being vile and awful at times as anyone else in this world. So how do you get to that other level of analysis? So that brought me to the point where after 14 years I did quote, "want to retire', quote "haha".Aubrey asked me to stay on as the executive director of the board to do some non-profit work. I stayed for about a year and during that time he moved away from some things that he thought he wanted to do into public ed, where he really wanted to be. And so gradually he moved to that and I moved away from Aubrey and all those good years. I started my own consulting under Context Management, Inc. And Jose called me. Jose was a friend in college, grad school. And I had known him long ago and he called and said, "Hey, Darnell. I hear you're free. Why don't you come down here and consult with me?" And I said, "Sure, yeah, of course. Let's do this thing." And that grew from casual consulting around some issues of the structure of the company to a longer term commitment to finally him asking me in March of 2020 to be the CEO and later the president, after he died, of ABA Technologies. It's been my honor and privilege to be here. And that's where I am today. And what I see this place as is one of those places where all these streams of influence come together, because what ABA Technologies does is attempt to affect future behavior through the training of exceptionally well-versed behavior analysts and practitioners in business and other areas that we might go into. The roots, in the understanding of if anything, the effects of consequences on our own behavior, but on the conditions that surround us. And I thought here's a place where maybe over time, I can do more directly in the area of how we punish and reward people. So that was that. That's my journey up to that point,

Shauna Costello (23:39):

Bringing it full circle back to what you started. Why you started coming into this company.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (23:47):

Yeah. Why I started. Never lost that. I often felt that I was a bit afloat in this refined world of behavior analysis. I am, after all, married to an EAB type who is extremely alert to every nuance of the evolution of this field. And it's been a great education. In fact, he's teaching a class in another room right now on the history of behavior analysis. I'm continuously in this learning loop, which has been good for me. But in fact, it's those early days of what is this thing called threat and fear? Why do we do it? What is it? Is it innate? No, of course not. Can we shape it? Yes. Is it a tough battle? Yes. Does it involve OBM? Absolutely. Levels of structures, processes, and systems, the way in which we acculturate practice, rules of conduct. All kinds of overlapping interface. So I feel at home where I am. I'm hoping in my own company, that the people inside it can gradually understand that this company belongs to them. And what happens in it is about how they perform, not how I perform. But if I don't set up conditions where they feel free to express themselves or to challenge or to complain, or just to be gripey or positive, whatever they want to be, then I failed because that verbal event is really at the heart of so much. The verbal event with those Germans way back in the fifties, where they were justifying what they were doing during World War II slightly and largely. Where they also were trying to be duty bound to something they felt was their duty as a military officer. The words they use to describe. The words I'm using today to describe why I'm here. All of those are so critical and I want my company to be free to the degree we can arrange contingencies of threat and fear. We're working on it. It's not there yet. We still have individuals who tend to use the "they" word when they're talking about me. I am one, although there is another use of "they" word these days. I do understand that, but they're really talking about the company and the company is me. With a couple of the others who are trying to shape and guide it, but it's no more than the individuals. So I know that we're a long way away from being where we need to be, but we're moving. I hope. We'll find out over the next year or so. So my great goal is to do things now to bring more learning to many people about conditions of cooperation. Don Hake, an early behavior analyst, was a very big influence on my life and he was all about cooperation trust. Those were areas that he studied as an EAB type, experimental analysis, and he really wanted us to pursue it, but it wasn't pursued. Actually, there've been very few studies. More and more people are entering into this area. How do we generate cooperation? How do we look at threat and fear? How do we increase trust? Whatever that word means, operationally. How do we ensure it? So those are areas that I want to pursue as I continue in both what I write about and what I do. Which brings me to some of the things that I believe are kind of core to what I see as principles that I believe are essential. One of the things, as a behavior analyst, that I really believe, and that's this notion of behavioral reciprocity. That we're each in this river of behavior together. And that what you say influences me and what I say influences you. It's a little bit of that butterfly effect times X. The infinity notion. That some small expression that's sad, and I think, "Oh, isn't that clever, Andy?" Andy I used to think we invented the word rugrats when we were talking about our children, but in fact, rugrats were everywhere. We just didn't hear it. And we thought it was so cute. Little rugrats running around. No, no, no. We're shaped by so many things of behavior, that shapes our language shapes, the way we see our world. Reciprocity seems central. It's one of my concerns of today. And I'll talk about later too, by the way. One of the great sayings that I really love is one by Martin Luther King. And he said, "Our destinies are tied together. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are who you ought to be. We're all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny and whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly." I believe that so much today when I look at our social fabric and I see us still struggling with those issues of civil rights from way back when. When I'd have to sneak down in the bottom of a car, because the KKK ended up putting a burning cross in one of my friend's lawns, as she was dropped off at her house. You know, it was Tuscaloosa after all. It was the headquarters of the KKK, and dumb me. I just thought I was on a casual dark night journey. I didn't understand danger in any classic sense. Most of us didn't. We were after all well intended, good folks. But anyway, that kind of thing persists today in all of this upset in the world around us and Jose, who I adored in many ways, he had many flaws. He was a human being, but one of the things that he really wanted was to increase our respect for diversity. He wanted us to understand that the way people show up, the structure of their behavior, whether they should say things in a certain way, or whether they should dress a certain way or approach others in a certain way was not half as important as functionally what their behavior actually led to what they said. and they did. So that became a mantra for him. He wanted this world to be more welcoming of difference. And he used to laugh at himself a lot because he saw himself as a representation of, "You have to get past my difference to see my beauty." And he would laugh hysterically, as only he could about that diversity of breadth of expression. It wasn't all fun for him. It was painful too, but he turned it into more of what we, as behavior analysts are taught to do. We don't look at a label. We don't address a person in sum up to something. We look at their behavior and what it affects, and if it's affecting good, we can leave most of it alone. After all, we're not here to shape one another out of our uniqueness, we're here to kind of develop others. So I saw that as part of that whole network of reciprocity. The second thing that really shaped me was pinpointing valuable behavior as specifically and descriptively as possible. Not going after everything. When I was out there coaching people around the world, they all had oddball bits of behavior just as I did. It was not my job to quote, "Clean them up, make them pure." Get them to look like what? A Puritan? Where? The mountain? I don't know. Even in America, where would I find the model of what truth was all abou? Rather look at what they said and did and just look at it. Observe it. Gilbert's model of "look before you listen". Just watch and see what works effectively and what gets in their way. The same kind of abusive verbal behavior, the same kind of threat and fear strategies were the biggest barriers to many of these people's effectiveness. Many of them though were exemplars of extraordinarily effective behavior. And I, as a behavior analyst understood that they had been shaped by the culture in which they found themselves. I did not need to bring them the truth of behavior analysis. I so often think we make a mistake that we cannot look to see what these laws of learning have taught us. Look at what people say and do, look at how our cultures have moved forward in such extraordinary ways. Good ways, as well as the things we don't do well. That's all the laws of learning. That's all behavior. And so it is not ours to judge or to think that we're the judge. We're the one to go in and we analyze and we say, "Oh, behavior analysis can teach you so much." Instead, what we should be doing is capturing best practice. What we learn by pinpointing, what they're doing and saying, and perhaps spending time looking at their generalization of those principles into other settings. How well do they do that and where they don't, helping them with a few guiding principles along the way. But I've always... I was taught that early at COBA, the Chicago group, John and Jim who ran that were extraordinary behavior analysts, and they never wanted behavior analysis to get in the way of change. They never wanted us with our big hearts and great certainty of what we had to offer, getting in the ways of what we actually saw. Rather we wanted to celebrate that, help them do more of it, see their own behavior reflected in what they were doing and teach them along the way. Principles, consequence, management, effectiveness, and a sameness in behavior, but not make that the driver. Make their own behavior their own environments. The functional, analytic laboratories in which we were invited and to show respect for that. I see that today in so many things that we do that troubles me. So learning how to pinpoint the necessary, celebrate the excellence and maybe accept or discuss the rest of it. If people desire to do more, we do more. If we're brought in to train them on principles, fine. But if we're brought in simply to help them use their own histories of learning, let's do that. Let's not assume we have something better always and try to move them away from things that actually do work and very, very good in sometimes obscure ways. The third principle is a product, I guess, like the first two, but it's always been a concern of mine and that's attribution. I see so often we behavior analysts attributing things to ourselves that we never did. Somebody else taught us to do it. I'm sure I do this myself, but on top of that, taking work from others and attributing it to the individual who decides, "It's mine. I'm going to say that I said that. I'm going to say I did that." What a debilitating effect that has on employees, on staff, on others. If their good work is overlooked by our callousness, because we want to claim something or we think, "Well, we did this excellent study." No, we didn't. We were taught and learned together with others. The Genesis of the idea may have started somewhere else. I want us to think hard about attribution. It does rob the spirit. Literally, whatever we mean by the spirit, it robs the way we feel about ourselves, our worth, others, the anger we can feel for a very long time. So I'd like all of us as behavior analysts to think about that. It's an attribute of a mature person. It's something that we can be very helpful in helping others claim. Many young behavior analysts are very eager to give away their ideas and to say, "Oh, I could never have done this without you." Well, that's probably not at all true. And so giving back to them what they did on their own, out of their rich environment, learning how to move away from the parts of that environment that don't work for them. Those are gifts you can give them, but taking their work. No way. Let's not do that. So giving back credit. Those are things that are kind of critical to me, but I really have thought that others should reap others.

Shauna Costello (37:49):

Let's kind of talk about what I know about you as well. I know you a little bit more intimately than a lot of the people, but one thing too, that I've always wondered about, especially with how you got into more of the consulting world and you even mentioned too they were mostly dudes. And that's one thing that I always wondered about too, is my demeanor and your demeanor are two completely different things. I know that. And I always wonder too, how did you come into this field and conquer this field that was full of men back in the day when a lot of women were not doing that.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (38:44):

That's right. Yeah.

Shauna Costello (38:45):

So that's one thing that I've always wondered even more about is, was that difficult?

Dr. Darnell Lattal (38:52):

It wasn't difficult at all. It wasn't. The first event I went to as an OBMer was in Princeton at something called the Scandian hotel, I believe. And the group out of Chicago was running a workshop or a discussion group with a bunch of leaders. And they wanted me to come in, fill in the blanks on some subject. And I remember coming into the room and they were all dudes. And they would say things like, "Hhmm, you smell so good." You know, all that kind of stuff or, "Wow". Well, I was skinny and young and whatever. But the thing that I remember was that I just didn't think about that. I never thought of myself as a "sexual being" quote. I mean, I did, but not there. I thought of myself as kind of a colleague and I just used words. I talked, I educated, I confronted, I was direct with them. Clear, immediate, direct, and it worked. And I was in all my life's ventures. I am to this day. I'm indirect at times when I want others to come forward. I try to support others in getting there so they can be the person that people reference and go to, but I've never been afraid of those kinds of environments. I never even thought about it. I know that I probably did. I knew that there were a lot of bad dudes. I knew that there were a lot of seduction equations going on out there. I knew what people wanted. It was a wild and wonderful West of business in those days where all things went, but a lot of the women I met didn't pay any attention to it either. Now that doesn't diminish the fact that there weren't those barriers and it doesn't diminish the bag that I still was working for men all those years. I wasn't leading any company of note until I joined Aubrey Daniels. And then it was after two years there, he said, "Sure, Darnell, come on in and take over." But it took 12 years of experience in the field of behavior analysis or more, before I, as a woman assumed a leadership role. But in my clinical world, I was president of my state association. I headed companies that I created with others, a company that taught literacy. You know, I'd been used to that role as a person and it just didn't come up. It never did. The guys would give me compliments and they'd say, "Darn, Darnell. You could use a little bit of while, you could be Wiley". Meaning, you know, flirtatious, that, "Man, you're just straight out and you're very effective." And I thought, "Yeah, man. That's right. Here I am." I'm sure it could have gone a different route, but I've talked to many of my colleagues who are female, who also have identified much less a sense that their sexuality got in their way. There could be lots of reasons for that. I'm quite certain of that, but it never, ever, ever created a barrier. The only time that it was ever at all threatening to me was when men were out of control drunk. Something a little outrageous in their own behavior and I just needed to separate from that. But other than that.

Shauna Costello (42:50):

That's good to know too. Just because I know that can still be something young women in the field coming up think about.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (43:04):

They do need to think about it and I'm not discounting at all that it isn't very, very rampant. By the time I got there, I was in my early forties. I had a lot of experience under my belt. The thirties are a hotbed of sexuality for a lot of people. It is a driver, of course, all your life. People might identify you as a woman and they might discount what you can say and do. I find that true on initial meetings, there's sometimes a discounting, but it doesn't last long. And I've often puzzled about them. Anyway, it doesn't last. And for young women, I would say, be clear, direct, immediate, look them in the eye. If they say things that are inappropriate and say, "No, that's not what we're going to talk about." Or they can be very direct that, "When you say that to me, your intention may be to be funny or supportive or something else, but the effect is negative and I want you to stop." Learn how to set your own boundaries early on, but don't make huge judgements about, "You bastard" or "You're a no good son of a gun." Rather look at their histories of reinforcement. And in the era of the eighties and nineties, my goodness, the history of reinforcement for behavior analysts, as we well know, even in our field. Male behavior analysts reinforced highly by female behavior analysts along the way, by the way, was outrageous personal conduct. It still didn't mean that they were all gropers. It didn't mean they all were doing vile things by any means, but the conditions that surround us shape who we are, and we as females have a role to play in setting those conditions. Men do too. I'm not excusing their behavior, but I am saying that we need to be more thoughtful about how people get to the condition that we find them in and outrageous verbal behavior can be brought under control. Physical touching, physical whatever, can be punished, can be a no go, let's move on. When it can't, when it's threatening, you must walk away. You must know when you have to leave an engagement and say, "I can't work here." And there were times we did that in my consulting experience, but it wasn't around necessarily sexual abuse. It was probably more around general people abuse. Conditions that were only making things very, very bad. And the more we reinforced the behaviors they needed to succeed, the more we were sustaining behaviors that were punishing to their employees. So making a choice between staying in an environment like that and walking away from it is something people need to do.

Shauna Costello (46:10):

You mentioned your kids and I've personally met one and that was something neat to see too. Where they are and what they're doing in their careers. Yeah. They still have this foundation.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (46:26):


Shauna Costello (46:27):

Of behavior analysis.

Dr. Darnell Lattal (46:29):

They do. They all do. Actually, two of them worked at CLG as typist and organizer of instructional design. They were the content developers in the early days when they were going to school. They would take things that people would give them. They'd put them into PowerPoints. They were doing that kind of work in the summer and that sort of thing. So they did some work. My son came with me to Chicago and to New York City. We went up to the top of the twin towers way back when and did all those good things together. So they were part of the experience to some extent, but we were behavior analysts. In our home we were about trying. I was about trying to shape positive behavior as was Andy. And we didn't talk behavior analysis ad nauseum, but they did know that that was a passion of ours. But they went on to other things. My daughters became lawyers and my son studied with behavior analysts at UCSD in California, where he got his Master's degree. He got it, but he moved on to the University of Pennsylvania where he studied biology and behavior with some very famous behavior analysts and research biologists, and is now a neuroscientist. He's not a neuropsychologist, he's a neuroscientist. And he studies learning and he does a lot of work with brain and behavior. But he certainly understands behavior analysis. He studied with some of the greats of our field. Fantino was one of his majors. I don't know if you know Fantino, but he was famous in behavior analysis. So anyway, my kids have all been influenced by this, but all of them have chosen to go on to other fields to practice and they're good people and they have great kids and they're not too full of themselves. And, you know, they're good citizens. So they've turned out well, and we're happy about that. And we love them very much. I think our lives have been maybe not ideal in all ways for that for children in their later teens and adulthood, but it was what it was. And it seemed to work out between us.

Shauna Costello (49:06):

Thank you for listening to this episode of Thought Leaders. Come back next month to hear as Darnell answers the question: Where do you see the field going or where would she like to see the field go? And as always, if you have questions, comments, suggestions, or feedback, please feel free to reach out to us at


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