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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #42
CE Offered: BACB
Assessing and Changing Choice in Less-Studied Contexts: Delay Discounting of Recommended Treatments, Asymmetries, and Negative Values in Discounting, and Self-Control Under Noncontingent Money Loss
Saturday, May 27, 2023
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom C
Area: EAB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Camilo Hurtado-Parrado (Southern Illinois University; Konrad Lorenz University)
CE Instructor: Camilo Hurtado-Parrado, Ph.D.

Impulsive behavior is the preference of a smaller sooner (SS) reinforcer over a larger later (LL) reinforcer; the opposite is self-control behavior. Despite major advances in our understanding of factors that influence impulsive preference (e.g., fading, framing, and priming procedures to reduce delay discounting), there is a need to expand the assessment of relevant variables and procedures that affect impulsive choice to less studied contexts. The first presentation will examine delay discounting of a recommended autism spectrum disorder (ASD) treatment in parents of children recently diagnosed with ASD and others asked to imagine being in the same situation. The second presentation will discuss the notion of negative values and asymmetries in discounting (e.g., in social discounting, people could choose to take money from others instead of giving money) and will examine negative values and asymmetries in data from individuals exposed to scenarios in which they would choose to quit or not smoking, report negative versus positive affect, and take money from others instead of giving. The third presentation will analyze the findings of an experiment that tested the effects of different probabilities of noncontingent money loss on the impulsive responses of college students and will compare these findings with previous research that has tested other forms of aversive stimulation (intense noise, cold water, and unpleasant images).

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism treatment, aversive control, delay discounting, social discounting
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: (1) Differentiate self-control and impulsive behavior, and the experimental methodologies implemented in behavior analysis to study them. (2) Define different forms of discounting and the methodological approaches to measure them. (3) Define negative values and asymmetries in discounting. (4) Name the effects of aversive stimulation on self-control behavior of human and rodents reported on related research.

Delay Discounting of a Recommended Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment

ERICH K. GROMMET (Troy University), Elizabeth Kryszak (Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Ohio State University), Nathan Hanna (Modern Integrative Psychiatry ), Teresa Ibañez (Nationwide Children’s Hospital)

We examined decision-making factors in parents’ treatment-option choices for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We presented 31 parents of children recently diagnosed with ASD with a demographic questionnaire, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Spielberger et al., 1983), the Parenting Stress Index, 4th ed., Short Form (PSI-4-SF; Abidin, 2012), and a delay-discounting task. We also administered the same tasks to 14 people we asked to imagine having a child diagnosed recently with ASD. In the delay-discounting task, participants chose between a recommended treatment and another option. We varied the recommended treatment’s annual cost ($195.31–$12,800,000.00) using an adjusting-amount procedure (Holt et al., 2003) that reset to $50,000.00 at the start of each waitlist duration. We varied the recommended treatment’s waitlist duration (immediately–128 weeks) by starting at the shortest or longest duration and progressively increasing or decreasing every nine trials. The other treatment option was always cost-free and available immediately. Regardless of group affiliation (actual child vs. imagined), STAI responses, or PSI-4-SF responses, most (64.44%) participants gave responses that indicated waitlist duration (i.e., delay) did not affect their treatment choices. This result suggests delay may not affect ASD treatment choices in the same manner it affects many other commodities.

Asymmetries and Negative Values in Discounting Research
ALVARO A. CLAVIJO ALVAREZ (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), Juan Pablo Molano Gallardo (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)
Abstract: Most discount research, whether delay, probability, or social, has focused on positive values, which researchers usually depict on the positive side of a Cartesian Coordinate System. For instance, participants in experiments on the subject choose between smaller, sooner money amounts and larger, longer amounts. As a rule, the dependent variable, some value measure, is always positive. On the same token, most research on social discounting has focused on forgoing money altruism. However, regarding discounting, negative values and asymmetries could exist. Rachlin (2016) conceived of the existence of such values and their implications for self-control. In the social distance case, people could take money from others instead of giving. This presentation shows preliminary data showing negative values obtained with 26 Colombian students who wanted or did not want to quit smoking, as Rachlin had foreseen. Another data set shows asymmetries in the hyperbolic function when people report negative versus positive affect and when participants take money from others instead of giving in a Social Discounting Task. These data came from Google questionnaires applied to 128 Colombian university students and 90 students from the National University of Colombia in another study. The presentation discusses the possible implications for future research and theorizing of negative values and asymmetries on discounting.

Effects of Noncontingent Point Loss on Impulsive Behavior During an Adaptation of Flora et al.’s (1992) Choice Task

CAMILO HURTADO-PARRADO (Southern Illinois University; Konrad Lorenz University), Julian Camilo Camilo Velasquez Lancheros (Konrad Lorenz University), Julian Cifuentes (Southern Illinois University)

Flora et al. (1992) reported that noncontingent aversive noise increased impulsive responses during a choice task in which participants earned points exchangeable for money. The impulsive option immediately produced 2 points. The self-controlled option produced 10 points after a 16-s delay. It is unclear if other type of aversive stimulation (e.g., symbolic, non-pain related; Crosbie, 1998) would produce the same effect. Twenty-four college students (12 men and 12 women) were exposed to three probabilities of noncontingent point loss (0, .03, .05) during a replication Flora et al.’s choice task. In the absence of point loss (0 probability), participants overall showed a moderate preference for the LL option (approximately 65%), which closely reproduced the choice pattern reported by Flora et al.’s (1992) in their control group (no aversive noise). Self-control responses decreased with the introduction of the point-loss conditions. Lower proportion of LL responses were observed under the .05 probability, as compared to 0 and .03, which approached indifference (approximately 51% LL). Although the same pattern was observed in women and men, women overall showed higher proportion of LL responses across all conditions, and their number of LL responses seemed to have been less affected by the higher probability of point loss (.05), as compared to men. These findings overall support the generality of the effect of noncontingent aversive noise on impulsive responses reported by Flora et al. (i.e., increments in impulsive choice towards indifference).




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