Behavior Analysis and the Arts

Photo by Timon Klauser on Unsplash

By Abigail B. Calkin

Behavior Analysis in the Arts (BAARTs) is the SIG group for the promotion of the relationship between behavior analysis and all arts—literature, music, performing arts, and visual arts.

BAARTs Facebook page is Since the 2021 ABAI conference, BAARTs had 24 posts. Travis Thompson, the previous chair of the BAARTs SIG has pulled back and we no longer have his almost weekly posts about writers, musicians, and visual artists. The rest of us do our best, but anyone interested in the arts can post at this site.

From June 2017 to April 2018, the SIG membership grew from 67 to 93, an increase of 28%. Since March 2018, the SIG membership grew from 93 to 177, an increase of close to a double. In 2021 it stood at 265. The members of the BAARTs Facebook page stand at an even 300 members at present.

BAARTs continues to hold scheduled meetings at the annual ABAI convention. This year such discussions were in small groups during the evening, which included a slide show of visual artworks, music performances, and literary readings.

A symposium related to the arts was Write, Dance, Play: Behavior Analysis and Precision Teaching in the Arts. Abigail Calkin was the chair and presenters were Calkin, giving a summary of her paper on “Writing on Writing,” published in the International Journal of Educational Research in 2018; Marisela Pallares, “A Component-Composite Analysis of Tap Dancing: Precision Teaching for the Performing Arts”; and Adam Hockman, “Practice and Performance Skills for Concert Musicians.”

One of our members, Ruth Anne Rehfeldt is now the president of ABAI. Mentioned in last year’s report, is her recent publication, The Beethoven Revolution in Perspectives on Behavioral Science occurred in November 2020.

We continue to work on 1) additional presentations at the annual ABAI conference; 2) the connections between the arts and behavior analysis; 3) how to view any of the arts or a particular work of art from a behavior analytic perspective; 4) how many members are artists and in which fields; and 5) how many members have a strong interest in the various arts but are not artists per se. Additional ideas for the future also include 6) learning who in our ABAI organization are recognized artists—published creative writing authors (poetry, fiction, narrative or creative nonfiction, essay, etc.), artists who have been in juried art shows or sold a number of works (painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, etc.), musicians (public performances, composers, conductors, etc.) and any other category not mentioned here. The criterion for this list is those who receive or have received pay for their work in the arts.

Whether an artist or aficionado of the arts to become a SIG member to learn more about the BAARTs SIG, please contact Dr. Calkin at The benefits of membership in the group include receiving the excellent Facebook posts and viewing the expansion of behavior analysis into an area not extensively thought of as related to the analysis of human behavior. Given that all areas of human behavior are available to analysis, the combination of behavior analysis and its relationship to the arts still seems to be a new and an exciting field. Membership is free.