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 #37
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advances in Basic and Applied Research on Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates Procedures
Saturday, May 26, 2018
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Coronado Ballroom DE
Area: DEV/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Chris Krebs (Florida Institute of Technology)
Discussant: Jessica Becraft (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Jessica Becraft, Ph.D.

Differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) schedules are designed to reduce, not eliminate, targeted responses. The studies presented in this symposium provide exciting new data showing some extensions of commonly-used DRL schedules in both basic and applied contexts. The first two talks provide data on the use of spaced-responding DRL. Emma Gillespie will describe how avoidance behavior that limited access to positive reinforcement in a human-operant task was reduced and Laura Neal will describe how a spaced-responding DRL embedded within a group contingency reduced excessive requests for attention from children in a Year 4 classroom in South Wales. The next two studies provide data on the use of full-session DRL. Andrew Bonner will describe how severe problem behaviors (e.g., self-injurious behavior) of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities were reduced and Chris Krebs will describe how excessive requests for attention by adults with intellectual disabilities working at an adult-day-training center were reduced. A discussion will follow these four talks to promote an exchange of ideas for future translational research on DRL schedules and similar applications.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): full-session DRL, spaced-responding DRL
Target Audience:

Applied Behavior Analysts Practitioners

Learning Objectives: 1) Participants will be able to describe recent research-based advances in spaced-responding DRL 2) Participants will be able to describe recent research-based advanced in full-session DRL 3) Participants will be able to describe better the conditions under which spaced-responding or full-session DRL can be used to successfully reduce social significant behavior.

The Effects of Spaced-Responding Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Responding on Avoidance Reduction in Humans

(Applied Research)
EMMA GILLESPIE (University of South Wales), Ioannis Angelakis (University of South Wales)

This study investigated the effects of a spaced-responding DRL schedule on decreasing avoidance in humans. Participants played a game where they could earn or lose points by clicking on different countries on a map. In training sessions, participants could access safe periods by pressing a foot pedal, which turned a red bar (i.e., warning signals) into blue (i.e., safety signals) for 9-s. In test conditions, participants could change the red bar into blue only after 2-s had elapsed from previous presses (DRL-2s). A progress bar initially indicated the time until after pedal presses had an effect on accessing these periods. The bar disappeared after three consecutive correct responses, whereas three additional consecutive correct responses doubled the DRL requirement. Participants completed 4- 5 sessions lasting 20 min each. Responding quickly matched the DRL requirement (up to 64 s) for all participants. Percentage of correct presses varied slightly per participant, and incorrect responses tended to be more frequent as the DRL schedule increased. However, all participants achieved 100% correct responses in their final sessions. These findings may have important clinical implications for identifying strategies to decrease excessive avoidance that limits access to positive reinforcement.


Effects of Class-Wide Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Behaviour on Reducing Children's Requests for Teacher Attention

(Applied Research)
LAURA NEAL (University of South Wales), Hayley Wells (University of South Wales), Jennifer L. Austin (University of South Wales), Ioannis Angelakis (University of South Wales)

Differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) is frequently used as an intervention when a behaviour is problematic due to the frequency with which it occurs. DRL schedules are effective as reducing engagement to more acceptable levels. In applied settings, most investigations of DRL have focussed on evaluating session and interval DRL arrangements, whereby limits are placed on the number of responses that will be reinforced in a given time period. Spaced-responding DRL, whereby responses are reinforced only after a specific inter-response interval has elapsed, are much less common. The current study applied a space-responding DRL within a group contingency arrangement to decrease excessive student requests for attention in a Year 4 classroom in south Wales. As requests for attention may include requests for assistance, we also measured whether decreases in requests for adult attention produced corresponding changes in children accessing help from sources other than the teacher (e.g., referring to a book or printed instructions for completing the task). Results showed that the DRL schedule reduced attention seeking to levels deemed appropriate by the teacher, as well as increasing children's independent working skills. Both children and teachers reported liking the intervention and thought it helped them do better work.


Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates Schedules Reduce Severe Problem Behavior

(Applied Research)
ANDREW C BONNER (University of Florida ), John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Differential reinforcement of low rate (DRL) schedules are reinforcement contingencies designed to reduce response rates. A common variation of the DRL arrangement is known as full-session DRL (f-DRL), in which a reinforcer is presented at the end of an interval if the response rate during that interval is below a predetermined criterion. Prior human operant research involving arbitrary mouse clicks has shown that the f-DRL is likely to reduce target responding to near zero rates. Similarly, applied research has shown that the f-DRL is likely to reduce minimally disruptive classroom behavior. There are, however, relatively few successful applications of the f-DRL to severe forms of problem behavior (e.g., self-injurious behavior). Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of f-DRL on the severe problem behavior of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For four participants, the f-DRL reduced severe problem behavior by clinically significant levels. Furthermore, results of a contingency strength analysis showed a strong negative contingency strength between target responding and reinforcer delivery for all participants. Key words: differential reinforcement of low rates, severe problem behavior, contingency strength.


Reducing Requests for Attention by Adults With Intellectual Disabilities Using a Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates Schedule

(Applied Research)
CHRIS KREBS (Florida Institute of Technology), Pablo Otalvaro (Florida Institute of Technology; Roe & Associates Integrated Behavior Supports Incorporated), Adam Thornton Brewer (Florida Institute of Technology), Yanerys Leon (Florida Institute of Technology), Jason Steifman (Roe & Associates Integrated Behavior Supports Incorporated)

Differential-reinforcement-of-low rate (DRL) schedules are often used to reduce, not eliminate, behavior. The current study examined effects of a full-session DRL on the number of requests for attention by two adults with intellectual disabilities working at an adult-day-training (ADT) program. The full-session DRL arranged for the delivery of a reinforcer at the end of a session if the number of requests for attention was less than a specified number during the entire session. Requests for attention, up to a specified number were also reinforced. In addition, a non-targeted behavior, duration of task (i.e., work) engagement, was measured. The full-session DRL reduced the number of requests for attention for both participants, and these effects were maintained during a generalization phase. Future research could extend the generality of these findings to other work-related behaviors and populations.




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