Chris Podlesnik, Ph.D.



Association for Behavioral Analysis International


Chris Podlesnik, Ph.D.

Florida Institute of Technology

Chris Podlesnik’s work on behavioral momentum, the degree to which reinforced behavior persists in the face of disruption, and its connection with quantitative theories of choice, has resulted in important insights into the phenomenon of relapse. In his research, Podlesnik pushed the boundaries of knowledge in behavioral momentum theory and linked this phenomenon experimentally and quantitatively to an understanding of the fundamental processes underlying relapse.

Podlesnik’s work on relapse has important applied implications, which is an area he has excelled in the dissemination of science. Podlesnik has shown the applied implications of his basic research in at least two domains. In one, he noted that that a standard treatment for problem behavior, differential reinforcement of alternative behavior, could paradoxically decrease the occurrence of problem behavior while simultaneously increasing both its persistence and likelihood of relapse. In substance abuse, a second domain, he used an experimental model of alcohol abuse that incorporates voluntary excessive alcohol self-administration by rodents to assess relapse to drug use. These findings complemented the largely correlational evidence that the loss of alternative forms of reward (e.g., job loss, divorce) could contribute to the likelihood of relapse to drug use. Moreover, these findings suggested that treatment approaches like contingency management can, and should, account for reinforcement loss to decrease the likelihood of relapse when terminating treatment. This work has given rise to lines of research both in basic laboratories and applied settings.

Podlesnik’s interest in disseminating basic research into applied arenas has led him to move to a mostly applied department at the Florida Institute of Technology. While he continues to conduct laboratory research, he has become increasingly interested in expanding into applied domains. This is evidenced by recent publications and also the fact that he has nearly completed the credentials to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a process that entails 1,500 hours of supervised delivery of services. This is a next step toward expanding his research activities even more into the applied arena. He currently serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and is Program Chair for the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior. Podlesnik received the Early Career Research Award from Division 25 of the American Psychological Association in 2011.

Dr. Podlesnik currently is an Associate Professor in the Schools of Psychology and Behavior Analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology. Previously, he held a faculty position in the School of Psychology at The University of Auckland and currently holds a position there as an Honorary Academic. He received postdoctoral experience in behavioral pharmacology at the University of Michigan and earned his doctorate in Psychology from Utah State University in 2008.