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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #126
CE Offered: BACB
Technological Advances in Assessment of Preference and Measurement of Reinforcing Effects in Applied Settings
Saturday, May 23, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon H
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Casey J. Clay (University of Missouri)
Discussant: Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Casey Clay, Ph.D.

Clinicians regularly use preference and reinforcer assessments to identify effective reinforcers. Typically measurement of stimuli occurs subsequent to the assessment of preferences to confirm putative reinforcers. The types of preference assessment and tests of reinforcing efficacy used vary widely and usually to take into account ecological fit. Consideration of the assessment and measurement of effects of different types of stimuli must be taken. This symposium includes four presentations that report on multiple types of methods to assess preference and measure the effects of reinforcers, which advance methods in preference assessment and reinforcer measurement . Two studies involved the use of video-based stimuli to assess preference in paired-choice and multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessments. One study compared two different types of preference assessments (i.e, . multiple stimulus without replacement and response restriction). In two studies researchers examined the reinforcing effects using a progressive-ratio schedule, while in a different study researchers

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): conditioned reinforcement, preference assessment, reinforcing efficacy
Target Audience:

Scientists, Students, practitioners

Learning Objectives: 1. Describe multiple methods for assessing preference for children with ASD? 2. Identify benefits of different methods (e.g., video-based) of preference assessment for kids with ASD. 3. Describe ways to measure reinforcing efficacy of stimuli identified by preference assessment.
A Video-Based Preference Assessment of Social Stimuli
TAYLOR CUSTER (Garden Academy), Laura L. Grow (Garden Academy)
Abstract: Clinicians regularly use preference and reinforcer assessments to identify effective reinforcers. Research on preference assessments for social interactions has largely used pictorial depictions of social stimuli (Kelly, Roscoe, Hanley, & Schlichenmeyer, 2014; Lang et al., 2014). However, social stimuli are dynamic and the use of videos may better portray the nuances of social stimuli (Synder, Higbee, & Dayton, 2012). Adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder participated in the current study. An indirect assessment was initially conducted to identify social stimuli for each participant. Then the experimenters evaluated the usefulness of a video-based preference assessment to identify high- and low- preference of social stimuli. A video-based, paired-choice preference assessment was conducted in which two videos of different social stimuli were played simultaneously to identify preference of stimuli. Finally a reinforcer assessment was conducted to identify if the social stimuli functioned as a reinforcer. The results indicated that the video-based preference assessment was effective in identifying preference for social reinforcers.

A Replication of the Response-Restriction Preference Assessment With Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

MEGAN A. BOYLE (Missouri State University), Kaitlin Curtis (Missouri State University), Kara Forck (Missouri State University), Brittany Fudge (Missouri State University), Heather Speake (Missouri State University), Benjamin Pauls (Missouri State University)

Using highly preferred items that function as reinforcers is a critical component of treatment packages for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). To address limitations of more popular preference-assessment formats, we extended the research on stimulus preference assessments by replicating the response-restriction (RR) preference assessment and comparing results in terms of preference hierarchies to those from free-operant and multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) formats with six children with ASDs. We also assessed social validity of each format with teachers and clinicians who work with children with ASDs. Complete hierarchies were produced in four of 18 assessments and with MSWO and RR formats only. Results of the social validity assessment varied across raters, with each preference assessment format receiving the highest rating from at least one rater. Results are discussed in terms of practical recommendations and relative to the preference assessment literature as a whole as well as areas for future research.


CANCELED: Examining Factors Related to Animal-Assisted Intervention for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evaluation of Video-Based Preference Assessment and Validation

Casey Clay (University of Missouri), Savannah Tate (University of Florida), ASHLEY EVANS (University of Missouri; Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders)

Recent research suggests benefits of the presence of pets in social responding of children with ASD. It follows, pets may be preferred and valuable as rewards in treatments for these children. However, preference for animals, and contingent access to animals to increase desired responding has not been clearly demonstrated in research. This study aimed to investigate preference for, and rewarding efficacy of a typical animal pet (i.e., dog) in children with ASD. We conducted in vivo and video-based paired-preference assessments including a dog. We subsequently conducted reinforcer assessments using progressive ratio schedules. Results of this study revealed in vivo and video-based preference assessment outcomes highly correlated for 2 of 3 participants. Outcomes of reinforcer assessment revealed access to a dog served as a reinforcer. However, relative reinforcing efficacy of the dog was not as strong as other social interactions for 1 of 3 participants.

Brief and Continuous Conditioned Reinforcers: A Comparative Analysis
JOSHUA JACKSON (Western New England University), MaKenzie Hough (Western New England University), Sarah Malagodi (Western New England University), Jason C. Bourret (Western New England University)
Abstract: Brief and continuous conditioned reinforcers have been shown to have differential effects on free operant responding in basic literature (Findley and Brady, 1965; Jwaideh, 1973). Specifically, brief conditioned reinforcers have been demonstrated to have a response optimizing effect when delivered contingent on responding under second-order schedules of reinforcement (Findley and Brady, 1965; Malagodi, DeWesse, and Johnston, 1973). Alternatively, continuously present stimuli that are associated with the initial components of second-order tokens schedules of reinforcement have been shown to result in response suppression under specific schedule parameters (Foster, Hackenberg, and Vaidya, 2001; Bullock and Hackenberg, 2006). Although these types of conditioned reinforcers are used extensively in applied settings, there has been limited applied research on the effect these stimuli may differentially have on the behavior of humans (Kazdin & Bootzin, 1972; Hackenberg 2018). The purpose of the present study is to determine whether these types of conditioned reinforcers have differential effects on the behavior of humans. Preliminary results show that these stimuli produce differential effects on the amount of behavior maintained under progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement with continuous second-order schedules of reinforcement maintaining the highest response counts relative to brief and tandem second-order schedules.



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