Commit Heresy: Stop Using “Contingency”

  • Alan PolingEmail author
  • Anita Li
Discussion and Review Paper


The term “contingency” has long been widely used by behavior analysts, but their uses of the term are inconsistent with the vernacular definition of the term. Moreover, the term is not consistently defined by behavior analysts, but is instead used to refer to a variety of relations between and among stimuli and responses. In the interest of reducing jargon and potential confusion, we argue that behavior analysts should stop using “contingency” and related terms.


Contingency Terminology Jargon Public perception 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Preparation of this manuscript was not supported by external funds. No research findings with human participants or animal subjects are reported, hence institutional review board approval and informed consent are not relevant to the project. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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