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 #86
CE Offered: BACB
Getting Down to It: Mechanisms Matter
Saturday, May 27, 2023
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3B
Area: VRB/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Judah B. Axe (Simmons University)
Discussant: Lesley A. Shawler (Southern Illinois University)
CE Instructor: Lesley A. Shawler, Ph.D.

The present symposium will focus on molecular analyses of seemingly ubiquitous intervention procedures. In the first presentation, Olga Meleshkevich will share her investigation of the relationship between echoic and listener responses with children with autism. In the second presentation, Kara LaCroix will share findings from a review of the shaping literature. Both presentations will shed light on the critical mechanisms behind these commonplace procedures. Lesley Shawler will discuss implications of these findings and future directions for molecular analyses of behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): joint control, shaping, verbal behavior, verbal operants
Target Audience:

Some understanding of verbal operants and Skinner's verbal behavior conceptualization of language development

Learning Objectives: 1. Describe the potential relationship between echoics and listener behavior 2. Discuss the role that shaping plays in our everyday practice 3. Learn how these essential mechanisms play an important role in skill development
Echoics Count: The Relationship Between Echoic and Listener Repertoires
OLGA MELESHKEVICH (Simmons University), Judah B. Axe (Simmons University), Sarah Frampton (University of Nebraska Omaha), Kylan S. Turner (Simmons University)
Abstract: Researchers have suggested that echoic behavior plays an important role in the development of emergent listener conditional discriminations (Causin et al., 2013), emergent speaker behavior (Fisher et al., 2020; Ribeiro et al., 2015), and acquisition of secondary targets (Vladescu & Kodak, 2013). To further address this hypothesis, we examined the relationship between the number of words a child can echo as a chain in one trial (e.g., say cup, shoe, hat) and the number of pictures a child can receptively identify in one trial (e.g., point to dog, tree, boat). We conducted this assessment with 37 children with autism between the ages of 3 and 18 years old receiving services in educational centers in the USA and Russia. We found a strong correlational relationship with high prediction accuracy between the number of words echoed and the number of pictures identified. Follow up regression analysis indicated that the length of the echoic behavior could be a predictor of the length of the receptive stimulus. These results might have implications regarding teaching strategies to establish generalized listener repertoires in children with autism and promote further discussion on the topics of emergent verbal behavior, bidirectional naming, and joint control.
Response Shaping in Applied Works
KARA LACROIX (TACT, LLC), Gregory P. Hanley (FTF Behavioral Consulting), Cory Whelan (Vinfen)
Abstract: Skinner coined the term “shaping” after his day of great illumination when he taught a pigeon to bowl. Since then, shaping has been used in both the experimental and applied branches of behavior analysis to teach human and non-human organisms new behaviors in a gradual fashion. When used in the applied world, shaping is often combined with prompting procedures to increase the efficiency, however the addition of these procedures may be contraindicated to some of the underlying processes of shaping. In Study 1, we conducted a narrative analysis of shaping definitions from Skinner’s 1943 description to present day. Findings of this analysis were then used to create a comprehensive definition of shaping focused on the underlying behavioral processes. Study 2 is a review of response shaping in the applied literature that describes (a) how shaping has been used in applied works, (b) when to tact shaping as an independent variable, (c) and to provide recommendations as to when and how to use shaping in applied practice.



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