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 #405
CE Offered: BACB
Using Laboratory Models to Evaluate Topics of Applied Importance: Incentives, Feedback, Prevention, and Choice
Monday, May 28, 2018
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Ballroom HI
Area: EDC/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Amy J. Henley (Western New England University)
Discussant: Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
CE Instructor: Amy J. Henley, Ph.D.

Laboratory investigations are a beneficial means of evaluating socially relevant problems that are difficult to study experimentally in real-world contexts because of practical or ethical constraints. Such methods also provide a controlled environment for identifying functional relations and behavioral mechanisms responsible for the behavior of interest. This symposium includes four unique approaches to studying a range of research areas using laboratory-based methods that have implications for applied behavior analysis. The first presentation examines parametric manipulations of reinforcer dimensions of incentives on performance in a simulated online workplace. The second presentation will share findings from a laboratory investigation of varied levels of feedback accuracy and frequency on acquisition of a novel task with undergraduate participants. The third presentation used a computerized analog arrangement to examine the conditions under which differential reinforcement prevented the development of problem behavior. The final presentation evaluated the effects of conditioning histories on preference for reinforcer choice in five preschool-aged children. The symposium will conclude with comments and considerations for applied behavior analysis from a discussant.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): human operant, laboratory models, translational
Target Audience:

Researchers wishing to use laboratory models to understand the controlling variables for socially relevant applied problems or practitioners hoping to gain a better understanding of laboratory-based research.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe how reinforcer probability and delay influence incentive efficacy for promoting work-related behavior; (2) articulate the effects of varied levels of feedback accuracy on acquisition; (3) describe how differential reinforcement can be used to prevent problem behavior; and (4) describe how various conditioning histories contribute to preference for reinforcer choice.
Parametric Analysis of Reinforcer Probability and Delay on Incentive Efficacy: A Behavioral Economic Demand Curve Analysis
AMY J. HENLEY (Western New England University), Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Recent research has effectively translated behavioral economic demand curve analyses for use with work-related behavior and workplace incentives. The present experiments integrated a hypothetical and experiential demand preparation into a computerized task for use with Amazon Mechanical Turk Workers to evaluate the effects of parametric manipulations of reinforcer dimensions on performance using a behavioral economic demand framework. The work task was arranged using a progressive ratio schedule and required participants to slide a visual analog scale to match a target number. Participants earned incentives in exchange for the completion of each ratio requirement. The first experiment examined the effects of three parametric values of reinforcer probability (90%, 50%, and 10%) on performance assessed with a progressive ratio schedule. Responding was generally comparable for all three probability conditions. Experiment 2 evaluated the effects of three delays to incentive receipt (1, 14, and 28 days). Responding was higher in the condition in which incentives were delayed by 1 as compared to 28 days. For both experiments, participant responses on the hypothetical assessment were in general agreement with observed responding in the experiential assessment. Results of the current studies may inform the development of novel methods for measuring reinforcer efficacy in organizations.
Examining of the Effects of Feedback Accuracy and Frequency on Task Acquisition
DENYS BRAND (The University of Kansas), Matthew Novak (University of Kansas), Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas), Samara Tortolero (University of Kansas), Alison Fowler (University of Kansas), Jinny Yu (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Performance feedback is a commonly employed method for changing behavior across a variety of organizational settings. Despite it widespread use, basic and translational research is lacking with respect to the necessary and sufficient characteristics of feedback needed to produce optimal workplace performance. Previous research has shown that feedback accuracy and frequency, when evaluated separately, affect worker performance. Regarding feedback accuracy, studies have found that high levels of accuracy results in greater worker performance. Moreover, feedback provided more often is associated with greater levels of performance. However, not much is known about the extent to which feedback accuracy and frequency, in conjunction, control behavior. Thus, the purpose of this basic study is to assess the combined effects of feedback accuracy and frequency on skill acquisition in undergraduate students when presented with an arbitrary match-to-sample task. The results showed that the accuracy of the feedback was more important in determining the number of correct responses made by participants relative to the frequency with which the feedback was provided. The presentation will discuss the implications of the results for organizational settings.
Further Evaluation of the Prevention of Problem Behavior Using a Laboratory Model
Tara A. Fahmie (California State University, Northridge), ELIZABETH HERNANDEZ (California State University, Northridge ), Anne C. Macaskill (Victoria University of Wellington), Ellie Kazemi (California State University, Northridge)
Abstract: Severe problem behavior among individuals with intellectual disabilities is prevalent, harmful, and costly to treat. It is important for behavior analysts to evaluate how their successful approach to assessment and treatment can be applied to the prevention of severe problem behavior. However, it is difficult to study prevention in applied settings without foregoing experimental control. Laboratory models may provide a convenient, efficient, and safe way to answer basic questions about the prevention of problem behavior. Fahmie, Macaskill, Kazemi, and Elmer (in press) conducted a preliminary evaluation of a laboratory model that compared the preventive efficacy of noncontingent reinforcement and differential reinforcement of alternative behavior. Results showed that both interventions similarly prevented the development of an analogue to problem behavior in undergraduates. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and extend this laboratory model and to address some of its previous limitations. Specifically, we sought to determine whether and under which conditions differential reinforcement produces prevention effects. Preliminary data suggest that following training, increasing the probability of reinforcement for alternative behavior results in significantly better prevention effects. Our results have implications for the prevention of problem behavior as well as for basic research of human behavior.

Conditioning Preferences for Choice-Making Opportunities Through Histories of Differential Reinforcer Quality and Magnitude

MELISSA DRIFKE (May Institute), Jeffrey H. Tiger (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Margaret Rachel Gifford (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Studies have shown that children of both typical and atypical cognitive development tend to prefer contexts in which their behavior results in a choice of reinforcers rather than a single reinforcer delivered without a choice-making opportunity, even when the reinforcer received is identical across conditions. The origin of this preference has been attributed speculatively to behavioral histories in which choice making tends to be associated with differentially beneficial outcomes, but few studies have evaluated this claim and those that have yielded mixed results. The current study evaluated providing five preschool-aged children histories in which choice-making and no-choice-making contexts were differentially associated with higher-quality and larger-magnitude reinforcers and assessed changes in preference for choice and no-choice contexts in which outcomes were equated. These conditioning histories resulted in consistent and replicable shifts in child preference, indicating that choice preference is malleable through environmental experience. Thus, choice preferences may develop across children through shared learning histories.




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