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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #337
Evaluating the Effects of Various Topographies of Attention Across Behaviors and Therapists
Sunday, May 26, 2019
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, Montreux 1-3
Area: DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Quigley (Melmark)

Attention has been shown as an effective reinforcer for problem behavior (e.g., Iwata et al., 1982/1994; Kodak et al., 2007) and appropriate behavior (e.g., Clay et al., 2013; Nuernberger et al., 2012). Additionally, various types of attention (i.e., eye contact, praise, physical, conversation, and reprimands) affect an individual's responding differentially. In recent years, researchers have begun to evaluate preferences for different types of attention (Clay et al.; Kelley et al., 2014; Nuernberger et al.). These researchers also evaluated the reinforcer efficacy of different types of attention and shown differentiated preference hierarchies and level of responding during reinforcer assessments. It is also likely that participants have preferences for different adults, and these preferences may be due to the type of attention provided by that adult in conjunction with the child’s preference for different types of attention. This talk will explain the different methods for evaluating preference for different types of attention, the reinforcing efficacy of different types of attention, and how different types of attention may or may not affect a child’s preference for a specific teacher or clinician.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Attention, Preference, Reinforcement

An Evaluation of the Efficacy of General and Behavior-Specific Praise as a Reinforcer for Maintenance Tasks in Preschool Children

GENA PACITTO (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Nina Carraghan (Graduate Student), Julie A. Ackerlund Brandt (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology )

Praise, a form of attention that indicates approval, can be used in multiple settings to increase appropriate behavior. Praise is a nonintrusive and relatively simple intervention technique that is often more socially acceptable when compared to other procedures such as the delivery of edible items. Because praise may be used as a reinforcer in a variety of settings, and is usually a component within treatment packages, some researchers have examined praise in isolation. There are variables which may affect the efficacy of praise as a reinforcer, one being content or type of praise. General praise is defined as a declarative statement that does not specify the target behavior (e.g. “Good job!”); whereas, behavior-specific praise explicitly describes the target behavior (e.g., “Good job sorting!”). This study focused on evaluating the relative reinforcing efficacy of general and behavior-specific praise on rates of correct responses on a maintenance task in typically developing preschool children. The results indicated that all participants showed higher levels of correct responding during both praise conditions, as compared to control conditions. Although there were a few limitations, the results of this study replicate previous research and extend this literature base by including a new population.

An Evaluation of the Reinforcing Effectiveness of Attention Topographies on Skill Acquisition
MINDY CASSANO (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Valerie LaCerra (Penn State University, Harrisburg), Julie A. Ackerlund Brandt (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology ), Brandi Shives (Penn State Harrisburg)
Abstract: Attention is often used as a conditioned or secondary reinforcer to increase the future probability of a targeted behavior. Previous research has evaluated the preference for attention and the reinforcing efficacy of different types of attention; however, this research has focused primarily on types of attention that maintain problem behavior. This study adds to the educational research on this topic, as the authors used attention in skill acquisition. The current study used a multi-element design to evaluate the reinforcing efficacy of three topographies of attention on skill acquisition for typically developing preschool children. The results were that all three participants engaged in differential rates of mastery across conditions. In addition, physical attention and praise were associated with higher mastery rates than conversation. Although there were some limitations, this study is significant as the identification of social reinforcers is an important facet to the development and implementation of effective educational programs and interventions, specifically in skill acquisition where attention may be the only available or approved reinforcer.

CANCELED: Preferences for and Reinforcing Efficacy of Attention Types Across Researchers

HOLLY BARSZCZ (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Mary Halbur (Marquette University), Julie A. Ackerlund Brandt (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology )

Various types of attention (i.e., praise, physical, and conversation) may affect an individual's responding differentially, similar to the effects of different types of edible items. Previous researchers have evaluated rates of behavior when different types of attention are delivered, and shown differentiated preference hierarchies and levels of responding during reinforcer assessments; however, the researchers delivering the attention types were kept constant throughout these studies. Previous researchers have shown qualitative differences in types of attention and consistent effects of types of attention delivered across researchers. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and extend previous research by evaluating the preferences for and reinforcing efficacy of different types of attention (i.e., praise, physical, and conversation) across multiple researchers. The results presented include “matches” for high-preferred attention types and strongest reinforcer per child with each researcher. The role of using social reinforcers across different adults or researchers, and future research in this area, are also discussed.




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