Ethical Behavior Change: Effectiveness is Not Enough (1048)
Veterinary Technology |  Behavior
Sunday |  9:00 AM -  9:50 AM
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center||212B




Susan Friedman Ph. D., Professor Emeritus
Utah State University

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. She has helped pioneer the cross-species application of behavior analysis to animals, using the same humane philosophy and scientifically sound teaching technology that has been so effective with human learners. She has written chapters in three veterinary texts, and her popular magazine articles have been translated into 12 languages ( She has given seminars on learning and behavior at conferences and zoos in many countries around the world. Teaching her on-line class for professionals, Living and Learning with Animals, has provided even wider dissemination of effective and humane behavior change practices.

Presentation Info

CE Credit(s): 1.00
CE Level: 2


One of the most important aspects of the Hippocratic oath is its universality. Indeed, Hippocrates’ ethical principle is no less applicable to veterinarians (or behavior analysts) than physicians; no less applicable to behavior problems than disease; and no less applicable to non-human animals than people. However, as straightforward as the dichotomy between helping and harming may first appear, it is an especially complex subject regarding the ethics of behavior-change interventions. With every Tom, Dick and Harry peddling animal behavior advice on every Internet corner, the prevailing ethical standard is starkly one dimensional: effectiveness. This fosters an “end justifies the means” attitude and so animals in human care live lifestyles with unnecessary force and coercion. Although these strategies may accomplish immediate, short-term behavior goals, no educated practitioner should consider them acceptable when less intrusive strategies accomplish the same goals. In this presentation, a hierarchy of behavior-change procedures will be discussed to elucidate two standards, effectiveness and humaneness.

Learning Objectives

1. To understand the problem that results when effectiveness is the sole criterion for selecting behavior change procedures

2. To understand the procedural hierarchy of ethical behavior change procedures

3. To understand how to select procedures, and safeguards, according to an ethical standard