Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #207
CE Offered: BACB
Contingencies Involved in Pathological Processes
Sunday, May 28, 2017
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 5-7
Area: CBM; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Meagan Perkins (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Jonathan J. Tarbox (FirstSteps for Kids)
CE Instructor: Jonathan J. Tarbox, Ph.D.

The behavioral deficits of inattention and, impulsivity can impact daily functioning in a number of different ways, resulting, for some, in clinically diagnosable struggles. For example, disorders of mood, attention, personality, and substance use are all characterized by persistent inattention and impulsivity. Understanding the factors involved in the assessment and influence of these struggles is key in continuing to develop behavioral interventions for such disorders. This symposium will explore pathological processes like inattention and impulsivity in the lab with volunteer research participants. The first paper will detail the development of a behavioral assessment of delay discounting, a phenomenon where participants engage in behaviors that result either in immediate points, gradually accruing points, or by points being awarded after a delay. The second paper will explore how derived causal efficacy judgments influence impulsivity and inattention in a computerized assessment. Implications for behavioral interventions for inattention- and impulsivity-based disorders will be discussed in both studies. A general, moderated discussion will follow.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): causal efficacy, delay discounting, impulsivity, inattention

An Examination of the Effects of Derived Causal Efficacy on Impulsivity and Inattention

CALEB FOGLE (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Benjamin Manuel Ramos (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Inattention and impulsivity are behavior problems that tend to significantly disrupt activities across a range of life domains. Chronic impulsivity and inattention are often diagnosed as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The clinical literature suggests that individuals diagnosed with ADHD tend to maintain rule-governed self-evaluations of causal efficacy, which, in turn, are associated with higher levels of inattention, impulsivity, and resulting dysfunction. This study examined how derived causal efficacy could impact intention and impulsivity. Participants completed a series of Go/No-Go tasks with and without contextual cues. Some of these cues had derived causal efficacy functions through their relations with discriminative stimuli for high or low rates of responding. The impact of derived causal efficacy was examined in relation to errors of omission (inattention) and errors of commission (impulsivity). Data suggested that participants successfully transferred causal efficacy functions across the equivalence classes. Impacts on inattention and impulsivity varied, however, between individuals. Implications for behavioral interventions for inattention, impulsivity, and ADHD will be discussed.


Development of a Behavioral Assessment of Delay Discounting

LISA HARRISON (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Jessica Auzenne (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Impulsivity often leads to high-risk behavior due to its focus on immediate gratification in lieu of long-term gains. Delay discounting is the phenomenon through which a larger, delayed reward is discounted to the extent that the individual displays a preference for a smaller, immediate reward. Most human delay discounting procedures involve choices between two hypothetical outcomes involving various types of reinforcers. In these procedures, participants are provided with multiple trials where two hypothetical outcomes (e.g., $10 now or $100 after some delay) are presented and a choice is made between the two. The validity of such tasks is limited, as the contingencies (i.e., reinforcers and delays) are never directly experienced by the participants. This paper will describe the development of a computer-based assessment of delay discounting, in which participants directly contact both the reinforcers and the delay. The data suggest slightly different processes of delay discounting when contingencies are directly experienced.Implications for intervention on impulsivity will be discussed.




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