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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #254
CE Offered: BACB
Translational Research in Applied Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 27, 2018
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom A
Area: PRA/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jessica Catherine McCormack (The University of Auckland)
Discussant: SungWoo Kahng (University of Missouri)
CE Instructor: SungWoo Kahng, Ph.D.

In recent years, emphasis has been placed on bringing the experimental and applied branches of behavior analysis together. Translational research helps to bridge the gap between basic and applied research. Translational research can take a number of forms, from extensions to humans and proof of concept research, to experimental analysis of applied practices to understand underlying mechanisms. The present symposium presents a range of studies from three different labs connected by the theme of translational research. Researchers will present work form the following areas: factors involved in token reinforcement effectiveness (Weyman), training structures that may reduce resurgence in differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (Diaz-Salvat), discrimination difficulty as a moderator for the effectiveness of the differential outcomes procedure, which uses specific reinforcement to enhance conditional discrimination learning (McCormack), and applications of the differential outcomes procedure to teach verbal behavior (Perez-Bustamante). These studies provide examples of research along the spectrum of translational research, consisting of extensions to humans, human operant studies, and clinical extensions of basic processes.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): differential outcomes, resurgence, token economies, translational research
Target Audience:

Pracitioners in ABA.

Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior Versus Response Cost: Effects of Several Variables in Token Economies
(Applied Research)
Faith Reynolds (University of South Florida), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), JENNIFER REBECCA WEYMAN (University of South Florida)
Abstract: A token economy is a system in which an individual earns tokens and later exchanges those tokens for back-up reinforcers. Previous researchers have compared the use of differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) and response cost within token economies. Some studies suggest that DRO is more effective, while others suggest that response cost is more effective. These conflicting results may have been due to procedural variations within the token economies such as the immediacy of token delivery and the inclusion of verbal feedback with the delivery of tokens. The purpose of the current study was to compare the effects of and preference for token economies incorporating DRO, immediate response cost, and delayed response cost with college students. We also examined the influences of verbal feedback and no verbal feedback. We found that an immediate response cost was most effective when verbal feedback was not used and all conditions were equally effective when verbal feedback was used.
Effects of Varied Response Options and Serial Training on Resurgence
(Applied Research)
CLAUDIA C DIAZ-SALVAT (West Virginia University), Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Serial-response training may mitigate resurgence of a target response when compared to teaching a single alternative response. However, previous evaluations did not control for the number of available response options across conditions. It is unclear whether effects were due to the treatment manipulations or to extinction-induced variability. The two experiments described here investigated the variables that mitigate resurgence of the target response and increase persistence of alternative responses in previous serial-response training evaluations. Twelve undergraduate students enrolled in a psychology course at West Virginia University participated. In Experiment 1, we replicated previous findings by comparing serial and single response training while varying the number of response options. One component, serial-response training, involved reinforcing each of four alternative responses sequentially. Another component, single-response training, involved reinforcing a single alternative response. In Experiment 2, we compared effects of teaching several alternative responses to teaching a single alternative response on resurgence and persistence when the number of response options were held constant. When we controlled for the amount of available response options, results were undifferentiated across the two components.
Stimulus Complexity as a Moderator of the Differential Outcomes Effect
(Applied Research)
JESSICA CATHERINE MCCORMACK (The University of Auckland), Javier Virues Ortega (The University of Auckland), Douglas Elliffe (University of Auckland)
Abstract: The differential outcomes effect is the phenomenon whereby uniquely pairing reinforcers with discriminative stimuli, learning is faster and more accurate than standard conditional discrimination training. This procedure has been shown to enhance acquisition of matching-to-sample in humans, particularly in clinical populations with learning or memory deficits, but does not appear to have been incorporated into practice. This may be because the procedure is more onerous to carry out than standard conditional discrimination training. However, where standard conditional discrimination fails to produce mastery, it may be appropriate to incorporate this procedure in training. In this study, we explore one of the conditions under which the differential outcomes procedure may be preferred to standard conditional discrimination training. College students were taught to discriminate between different language characters, which were categorized as either simple or complex. We compared the effect of differential outcomes training across simple stimuli and complex stimuli. While few students demonstrated the differential outcomes effect when learning simple stimuli, the majority benefited from the differential outcomes procedure when learning complex stimuli. This study suggests that difficulty, in terms of stimulus complexity, may be a moderator of the differential outcomes effect, and may provide guidance to practitioners on when the differential outcomes procedure should be incorporated into discrimination training.

The Effect of Differential Outcomes Pre-Training on Tact Acquisition

(Applied Research)
Jessica Catherine McCormack (The University of Auckland), AGUSTIN GONZALO PEREZ-BUSTAMANTE (University of Auckland), Javier Virues Ortega (The University of Auckland), Douglas Elliffe (University of Auckland)

The differential outcomes procedure has been shown to enhance conditional discrimination learning in human populations, especially in clinical populations with learning or memory impairments. In animals, the effects of the procedure are more pronounced when subjects are pre-exposed to the stimulus-outcome pairings before training. In this study we compared the effects of pre-exposure to differential outcomes on tact acquisition of six primary school children with developmental disabilities. Differential outcomes pre-training was embedded in a receptive-to-expressive training structure similar to that used in early intensive behavioral interventions based on the UCLA model. That is, participants were exposed to the differential outcomes procedure prior to tact training via matching-to-sample listener training. Most participants showed faster acquisition of tacts when pre-exposed to the differential outcomes pairings, when compared to non-differential outcomes training. Additionally, participants also showed improved maintenance and generalization to a novel therapist. The study provides evidence for the effectiveness of the differential outcomes procedure in teaching verbal behaivour, as well as potential effectiveness of the differential outcomes procedure in teaching lasting and generalized behavior changed.




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