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 #507
CE Offered: BACB
Cooperation, Altruism, and Social Reinforcement: Current Trends in the Experimental Analysis of Social Behavior
Monday, May 28, 2018
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, Rancho Santa Fe 1-3
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Timothy D. Hackenberg (Reed College)
Discussant: Timothy D. Hackenberg (Reed College)
CE Instructor: Timothy D. Hackenberg, Ph.D.

Social behavior is a topic of enormous scientific importance that spans disciplines from neuroscience to anthropology. While the topic has received a good deal of empirical and theoretical attention outside behavior analysis, it has largely been neglected within the field. This is unfortunate because behavior analysis has much to contribute to this field, both methodologically and conceptually. This session brings together recent work from several labs, exploring different facets of social behavior: Franceschini and colleagues on research with rats in a social foraging paradigm based on public goods games; Borges and colleagues on research with humans on coordinated responding in a gaming context; Avila and colleagues on research with humans on social discounting and altruism; and Browning and Shahan on research with rats on resurgence and relapse following extinction of social reinforcement. Together, the work illustrates some trends in the experimental analysis of behavior, showing more broadly how behavior-analytic methods and concepts might contribute to the burgeoning area of social behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Students, researchers, practitioners


Social Coordination in a Public Goods Game Setting With Rats

Ana Carolina Trousdell Franceschini (Reed College), Lauren Vanderhooft (Reed College), Rachel Schulingkamp (Reed College), Christina Heumann (Reed College), Katelyn Gutowsky (Reed College ), TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (Reed College)

The Public Goods Game (PGG) is an experimental procedure typically used with 2+ humans to study economic interactions. Subjects share a limited environmental resource to which all have access to. To avoid overexploitation, they must establish some form of social regulation ("equilibrium"). A common finding is that some subjects "free ride", by accessing more resources than their peers. Over the past years, we've been searching for functional PGG parallels with rats. In our current model, two rats work in adjacent operant chambers separated by a transparent wall. Each chamber offers a CONC (PR FR) schedule. The PR is a geometric progressive ratio (PR) that increases with each reinforcement delivery. It resets back to its lowest value every time the subject earns a reinforcement on the FR. In the baseline phase, each subject works independently; in the social phase, reinforcements from the FR schedule resets the PR in both chambers. In the social phase, one rat tends to work exclusively on the PR ("free ride"), while the other switches and resets the PR for both chambers. We are currently exploring experimental interventions to reduce or prevent free-riding, which may potentially orient future policies for human situations.


Cooperative Behavior as an Integrated Behavioral Unit: Differentiation of Temporal Patterns

MARCELO BORGES HENRIQUES (Universidade Federal de Goiás, Regional Jataí), Lucas Codina Souza (Universidade Federal de Goiás), João Claudio Todorov (Universidade de Brasília)

When two or more people behave in concert with respect to a common environment, the conjoint behavior could be selected similar to individual operant behavior (discrete responses). Consequently, a coordinated sequence of responses could be considered an integrated behavioral unit, liable to have properties differentiated by consequences. Two experiments were performed to explore the processes and patterns of temporal differentiation of the integrated behavioral unit. A chessboard with only two pieces was presented to pairs of undergraduate students, on a notebook screen. Each piece could only be moved alternately, as the knight's movement. The pieces meeting in the center of the chessboard was defined as the integrated behavioral effect. In experiment 1, two pairs of participants worked on schedules of differential reinforcement of low rates and differential reinforcement of high rates, in an ABABC design. In experiment 2, three pairs participated on a schedule of differential reinforcement of response duration with different values (7 s; 13 s; 16 s; 19 s; and 22 s). In general, the results indicated similarities among the operant literature and data obtained. It suggested that mutual cooperative groups could be studied as an integrated behavioral unit, which could be considered more than the sum of its parts.

Parameters of Social Discounting as a Metric of Altruistic Behavior
RAUL AVILA (National Autonomous University of Mexico), ALDO TOLEDO (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Jorge Fernandez (National Autonomous University of Mexico )
Abstract: To ask somebody to imagine a list of people, from a closest relative or friend to a mere acquaintance, and then ask this person how much of a reward he/she would share with different persons of the list, is a common metric to study altruistic behavior. In this presentation two extensions of this metric were evaluated. First, the relation among social discounting rates of 60 participants and their sociometric-status known as social impact and social preference was determined. The area under the curve of the discounting task was a U-function of social impact (upper panel) and it slightly increased as the social preference increased (lower panel). The second extension evaluated was to give somebody the option to share the reward with one of two individuals who are at different social distances from him/her. Specifically, 117 participants had to choose between a smaller reward for the closer person to them and a larger reward for the farther one. The participants showed lower social discounting rates, or more "altruistic" behavior, as their distance from the closest individuals increased. These two extensions of the social discounting metric contribute to its generality as a measure of altruistic behavior.
Social Stimuli and Relapse of Operant Behavior in Rats
KAITLYN BROWNING (Utah State University), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
Abstract: Social stimuli are often used in behavioral treatment interventions for reducing problem behavior in clinical populations. Importantly, there is some evidence that changes in social contexts or loss of social reinforcement may produce relapse of problem behaviors following otherwise successful treatment. Basic research with nonhuman animals has been useful for examining the factors related to relapse in humans, but the role of social reinforcement and social stimuli are largely under-examined in these models. The purpose of the present set of experiments was to examine the role of social stimuli in two models of relapse. First, we examined resurgence of target responding following extinction of alternative responding previously maintained by access to social interaction. Next, we examined renewal of target responding in an ABA renewal preparation in which contexts were varied using social stimuli. There was no systematic evidence for resurgence following removal of social reinforcement, but renewal following a change in social contextual stimuli occurred under some conditions. Overall, these findings suggest that changes in social contextual stimuli may produce renewal of previously extinguished behavior. However, potentially due to procedural limitations, the effects of removing social reinforcement on relapse are less clear.



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