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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #307
CE Offered: BACB
Theoretical and Methodological Considerations Concerning the Participation of Verbal Behavior Within Metacontingency Experiments
Sunday, May 30, 2021
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Area: PCH/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Fabio Henrique Baia (Universidade de Rio Verde)
Discussant: Traci M. Cihon (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Traci M. Cihon, Ph.D.

Culturo-behavioral science is rapidly evolving into a scientific enterprise aimed, in part, at understanding relations between behavior and cultural selection processes. In this enterprise, cultural selection processes are largely seen as occurring through metacontingencies in which selecting events increase the likelihood that culturants (i.e., interlocking behavioral contingencies, or IBCs, and the aggregate products they produce) reoccur. As such, metacontingencies do not only increase the likelihood of observing particular responses of multiple individuals but functional relations between such responses. While verbal behavior has been shown to be important for facilitating metacontingent control of culturants, how verbal behavior or activity participates in establishing functional relations within IBCs remains elusive. The purpose of this symposium is to outline two different approaches towards analyzing the contribution of verbal behavior in metacontingency interactions: (1) by conducting descriptive analyses of referential interactions that occur between participants and (2) by limiting communicative interactions between participants and making selecting events contingent on one individual responding to stimuli that only other individuals contact. Although these approaches are distinct, they both can inform how relevant verbal processes are to establish functional relations within IBCs. Experiments utilizing each approach--and their implications for conceptualizing cultural selection—will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): cultural selection, metacontingency, reference, verbal behavior

Interindividual Performance in Metacontingencies: An Experimental Analysis of Interlocked Behaviors in the Unit of Interlocking Behavioral Contingencies

(Basic Research)
JOSE ARDILA (University of Nevada), Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno), Will Fleming (University of Nevada, Reno)

The main unit of analysis in metacontingencies are interlocking-behavioral contingencies (IBCs) measured by their aggregate product (AP) (Glenn et al. 2016). The experimental literature has demonstrated selection APs by factors external to the group (also known as “cultural consequences”). By contrast, social interactions occurring inside IBCs have received little examination, although they constitute a key element to understand different types of social dynamics. In this study interindividual performance and verbal interactions of individuals inside IBCs were examined. Communication between participants in dyads was experimentally manipulated such that some dyads wore noise-cancelling headphones while working together and other group of dyads used headsets to talk to each other during the experimental session. Verbal interactions were measured using video/audio digital recordings. Three type of instructions were presented to dyads to assess their effects on dyads performance under ambiguous circumstances throughout the task. Instructions varied in their degree of ambiguity in each condition: high (A), medium (B), and low-explicit rules (C). The order of rule presentation was alternated between groups. Our finding demonstrated significant differences in interpersonal performance between groups (verbal dyads vs nonverbal dyads). Overall, dyads spent more time engaging in cooperative verbal interactions than in any other type of verbal interaction, and similar acquisition patterns of these interactions were observed across dyads. The implications of these findings for futures studies related to the analysis of metacontingency will be discussed.


Investigating Cultural Behavior Using a Turn-Based Matching-to-Sample Procedure

(Basic Research)
WILL FLEMING (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)

Experimental analyses of metacontingencies assess how interlocking behavioral contingencies (IBCs) that produce aggregate products are selected and replicated as a single, functional unit. Turn-based matching-to-sample procedures (TBMTS) can be used to examine metacontingent selection. In TBTMS, pairs of participants take turns selecting comparison stimuli in the presence of particular sample stimuli. Dependency relations are arranged so that, on each trial, one participant responds in the presence of a stimulus selected by another. Rewards ae delivered based on correspondence (i.e., when one participant responds to a stimulus only shown to the another) and noncorrespondence (i.e., when on participant responds to a stimulus other than that only shown to another). When correspondence produces more points, participants typically select the same comparison stimuli as their partner across all sample stimuli and demonstrate symmetrical responding. While this task produces data that are interpretable from a metacontingency perspective, it also can be interpreted in terms of verbal processes. This presentation will elaborate on data collected utilizing TBMTS from a metacontingencies and molar operant contingencies and discuss the implications of each for future experimental analyses of culture, the importance of verbal behavior, and creating sustainable cultural change.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh