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

Program by : Saturday, May 27, 2023


Symposium #6
Will Culturo-Behavioral Science Realize Its Nascent Potential? Baby Steps on the Arduous Path to Maturity
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 2B
Area: CSS/OBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jonathan Krispin (Valdosta State University)
Discussant: Ramona Houmanfar (University of Nevada, Reno)

Culturo-Behavioral Science is a nascent, and ambitious subarea of behavior analysis, combining known elements of behavior analysis with new concepts (like the metacontingency, cultural cusps, and culturo-behavioral hypercycles) developed from interdisciplinary interactions with other fields, including biology, anthropology, and systems theory, that similarly emphasize functional interactions between constituents over time. While culturo-behavioral science has expressed intentions of addressing the most difficult problems of culture and society with the power of behavior analysis, there is still much work to be done before this goal may be achieved. In this symposium, four papers will present insights derived from theoretical considerations and case study analysis of cultural phenomena, as well as discuss recommendations and challenges facing researchers and practitioners as they study culturo-behavioral phenomena and seek to implement culturo-behavioral interventions in both formal organizations and in society at-large.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Challenges and Opportunities for Research and Practice in an Emerging Culturo-Behavior Science
TRACI M. CIHON (Behaviorists for Social Responsibility), Kyosuke Kazaoka (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Culturo-Behavior Science (CBS), a recently formalized specialization in behavior science, has garnered the attention of many current and aspiring behavior scientists. CBS has strong philosophical and conceptual origins, well-established connections with Behavior Systems Analysis, and several emerging lines of experimental analyses, especially those focused on the concept of the metacontingency. Throughout its history, the concept of the metacontingency and the related experimental analyses have often been subject to criticism. Some of the criticisms have focused on the challenges related to extending basic laboratory research to community and organizational settings and the resultant dearth of applied research and practice derived from the metacontingency. Given the influence of the metacontingency in CBS and the foci of CB:S developing a better ““understanding of how cultural phenomena develop and change over time” and furthering the contributions of a natural science of behavior in the organization of “more effective cultures and systems” (Cihon et al. 2021, p. 1), the focus of this presentation will be to explore some of the challenges and opportunities in bridging experimental analyses of the metacontingencies with applied research and practice in CBS.

The Far-From-Inevitable Relation Between a Good Idea and Implementation

INGUNN SANDAKER (Oslo Metropolitan University/ OsloMet)

Organizations are made of interacting behaviors, which makes them contingencies for the shaping, maintaining and changing of behavior. Implementing new practices, whether technological or social innovations, requires a thorough analysis of the contingencies maintaining the currently prevalent behavior. Successful implementation of new cultural practices does not rest on the inherent novelty or quality of the innovation itself. It depends on how these practices are functionally related to the environment. Rather, success comes from the members of the organization coming into contact with reinforcers for the new practices, while contingencies maintaining the practices to be replaced are changed, from reinforcement to extinction. The processes which are embedded in the functional relations and the structures in which these interactions are framed are critical to implementation. Behavior analysis offers important contributions to implementation theory and practice if communicated in a way that makes it the preferred option.

Do the Pieces Fit? Building an Initial Model of Culturo-Behavioral Complexity
JONATHAN KRISPIN (Valdosta State University)
Abstract: Behavior analysts have been describing behavior as complex for many years. For example, in basic research (see, for example, Donahoe & Palmer, 1994, Hoyert, 1992; Marr, 1996, McDowell, 2004) and in discussions of behavioral systems (e.g., Malott & Glenn, 2004; Sandaker, 2009) the terms “complex” and “complexity” have been used to describe both patterns of behavior and interactions between individuals. Attempts to define complexity often include such criteria as nonlinear interactions between numerous constituents that affect each other via functional relationships (e.g., Axelrod & Cohen, 1999). Recent work in the developing sub-field of Culturo-Behavioral Science has led to the identification of behavioral building blocks from which a behavioral model may be built that describes the complex phenomena. These building blocks include the operant contingency, rule-governed behavior (Hayes, 1989), social episodes (Glenn, 2004), metacontingencies (Glenn, 2004; Houmanfar & Rodrigues, 2010), and culturo-behavioral hypercycles (Krispin, 2019). In this paper, these building blocks will be described in terms of their evolutionary timeframes, processes of selection, and sources of nonlinear dynamics before expanding the discussion to include interactions between these building blocks and across levels of selection, leading to an initial model of culturo-behavioral complexity.
Symposium #7
CE Offered: BACB
Human Infancy as a Place of Behavioral Discovery and Application
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 1-3
Area: DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Thomas J. Waltz (Eastern Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Benjamin N. Witts, Ph.D.
Abstract: Human infancy is an exciting time. The infant’s behavioral repertoire is emerging and undergoing rapid transformation, as are the repertoires of those whose behavior is interlocked with the infant’s. The behavioral repertoires that participate in everyday life are formed during these months. Influential developmental variables can be shared, as when considering the shared cultural aspects of the infant’s contextual factors. Yet behaviorists have done objectively little work in this area. Topics such as nutrition (e.g., breastfeeding and breastfeeding difficulties), safety (e.g., infant abusive head trauma), and communication (e.g., crying) receive little attention compared to their developmental counterparts in autism therapy (e.g., food refusal, self-injury, verbal behavior, respectively). Theoretical models of behavior hold promise for promoting translational research, developmental research over the lifespan, and on intervention research and application during the first year of life. This symposium presents three unique perspectives on topics of interest to those who interact with infants.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Baby, Development, Parent, Translation
Target Audience: Practitioners, educators, students. Prerequisites: knowledge of general behavioral philosophy; knowledge of general psychology
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discriminate types of methodological approaches to infancy research; (2) contrast behavioral and traditional accounts of developmental stages; (3) identify multiple influential variables that could account for social events in infancy.
The Evolution of Shaken Baby Syndrome Research: We Need to Take a Few Steps Back
JENNIFER LYNNE BRUZEK (The University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Abstract: Estimates of incidence vary, but it is suspected that there are approximately 13,000 cases of shaken baby syndrome reported annually in the US. The mechanisms involved in these events are difficult to study under naturalistic conditions due to our inability to control the infant cry, reactivity, and ethical concerns, among other issues. Analogue studies have assisted with efforts in understanding the infant caregiver interaction more broadly. However, outside of the medical field, very little analogue work has been conducted to understand the variables that contribute to abuse specifically. Moreover, our current understanding of the infant-caregiver relation is largely based on descriptive and correlational analyses. In this talk, I will emphasize the current research gaps in this area and the need for replication, with tighter experimental control, of the work that has been conducted. Additionally, I will propose methodological models that will shed light on the next steps necessary to continue refining our knowledge of what leads to, and, more importantly, how to prevent infant abuse.

Considerations for Behavior Analysts on Delineating Between Developmental Milestones, Stages, and Cusps

GENEVIEVE M DEBERNARDIS (University of Nevada, Reno)

Developmental theory is the foundation for how child development is predominately understood by our science as well as our society. This is of special significance for practitioners, as these sets of assumptions impact treatment decision-making. However, developmental theories from mainstream developmental psychology and behavior science are separate and distinct. Yet, an incomplete understanding of these theories may lead to misconceptions on the developmental process, which, in turn, may influence expectations on what are perceived to be reasonable standards in development. This paper will provide a review of dominant theories from mainstream developmental psychology and behavior science, and delineate between developmental milestones, stages, and cusps. The implications of conflicting theories and how they affect societal expectations for the child-caregiver dyad will be examined. Considerations for practitioners on how these theories impact decision-making on when and how certain developmental goals are met will be discussed.


A Field-Theory Account of Infant Abusive Head Trauma During Crying

BENJAMIN N. WITTS (St. Cloud State University)

Accounting for the participating variables present during an abusive episode featuring infant crying will lead to a richer understanding of the event and, therefore, will better inform prevention work. As a social event, abusive episodes necessitate at least two individuals, and thus requires a multi-perspective analysis. As an episode typically taking place during early infancy, infant abusive head trauma related to crying must account for individual biology, psychological history, current stimulus and response functions, and social history with respect to each other. Kantor’s field theory approach to behavior, interbehaviorism, considers such factors as participatory in the event. In this talk, I will lay out an initial sketch of potential participatory factors that will likely need exploration in building an account of the abusive episode. In doing so, attention will be given to connecting these elements to prevention work.

Symposium #10
CE Offered: BACB
Using Direct Instruction, Frequency Building, and Peer Coaching to Teach Language, Reading, and Math Performances
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center 403/404
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jessica E. Van Stratton (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Jessica E. Van Stratton, Ph.D.
Abstract: Direct Instruction, Frequency Building, and Peer Coaching have been used to teach a wide range of performances to both typical and non-typical learners. In this symposium, we will describe and show evidence of the effectiveness of these procedures to teach language, reading, and math performances. First, Alice Shillingsburg will present data from a randomized controlled trial in which preschool and young school-aged children received language and communication instruction either from the Direct Instruction program, Language for Learning, or with Treatment As Usual (TAU). Second, Ky’Aria Moses will describe how frequency building procedures were used with typically developing elementary students to develop fluency with number identification, digit formation, and math facts. Third, Leah Herzog and Nicole Erickson will describe procedures for teaching students how discriminate error patterns and provide feedback through a process called peer coaching. They will show evidence of the effectiveness of teaching students peer coaching repertoires and how to apply those repertoires to novel classroom contexts.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: Professionals interested in behavioral education, direct instruction, Precision teaching/frequency building, Response to Intervention, communication, and teaching students how to partner and peer coach effectively. Audience should have a basic understanding of applied behavior analysis as applied to academic learning behavior.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe the benefits of using Language for Learning over Treatment as Usual for teaching expressive and receptive language behaviors to children with autism, 2. List the three mathematics behaviors targeted by the intervention and describe frequency building procedures to build fluency of those three behaviors, 3. Describe the procedures for teaching peer coaching repertoires and for teaching the application of those repertoires to novel contexts.

Randomized Control Trial of the Direct Instruction Language for Learning Curriculum for Children With Autism

(Applied Research)
ALICE SHILLINGSBURG (Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC), Lawrence Scahill (Emory University; Marcus Autism Center), Courtney McCracken (Kaiser Permanente)

One of the most common concerns expressed by caregivers of children diagnosed with autism is related to challenges in the development of communication skills. Often children with autism require specialized intervention to promote language and communication skills. The current study examined the efficacy of Direct Instruction Language for Learning (DI-LL) in preschool and young school age children diagnosed with autism who also exhibited moderate language difficulties. DI-LL is a highly structured, commercially available curriculum designed to target expressive and receptive language abilities. This study included 83 participants who were randomized to receive 6 months of DI-LL or Treatment as Usual (TAU). The intervention was delivered twice per week for approximately 90 minutes per session. Using the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvements (CGI-I) scale, 54.8% of children who received DI-LL were rated as “much improved” or “very much improved” compared to only 21.9% of children randomized to TAU. Further, 55.5% of children who received the intervention achieved a clinically meaningful improvement on the standardized language measure compared to only 29.3% of those in the TAU condition. Overall, these results suggest that the Language for Learning program is an effective intervention to promote language skills in young children with autism.

Using Frequency Building to Enhance Fluency in Basic Math Skills
(Applied Research)
KY'ARIA MOSES (Western Michigan University), Jessica E. Van Stratton (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Many students across the country fail to perform at proficient levels on state and national math assessments and require additional instruction and practice with foundational math concepts to achieve and maintain a level of fluency (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2019; Berrett & Carter, 2018). Fluency in basic math facts is a critical component for the acquisition of higher-order math computation and is often the missing link in students’ repertoires (Berrett & Carter, 2018). Fluency timings have been empirically researched and validated as an efficient and effective strategy to build fluent math performers (McTiernan et al., 2015; Johnson et al., 2021; Stocker Jr et al., 2020) as repeated practice opportunities can increase the rate to which students answer math facts. (McTiernan et al., 2018). This presentation will discuss the implementation of fluency practice sessions with elementary aged students and the impact on students’ individualized progress towards mastery. The Morningside Math Curriculum was used to target number identification, digit formation, and math facts. Fluency sessions included goal setting, 1-min timings, immediate performance feedback, self-recording, and progress monitoring. Aligning with previous research, data suggest positive effects of daily fluency practice on increasing students’ level of accuracy with the target math skills.
Teaching and Applying Peer Coaching Repertoires to Reading Challenging Words and Reading Comprehension
(Service Delivery)
LEAH HERZOG (Morningside Academy / PEER International), Nicole Erickson (Morningside Academy), Andrew Robert Kieta (Morningside Academy)
Abstract: In peer coaching arrangements, student groups of two or three practice various skills and give each other feedback, with one partner acting as the “performer”, and the other student acting as the “coach”. While peer coaching is most frequently used during frequency building sessions, it can and should be applied to a wide variety of contexts. This presentation will describe and show evidence of the effectiveness of two such applications: 1. reading challenging words in a group context, and 2. answering comprehension questions in a partner context. First, students were taught to apply peer coaching repertoires to a whole group exercise where students took turns reading passages aloud. They learned how to discriminate between the decoding error patterns made by their classmates, how to provide immediate and specific instruction to their peers, and how to track decoding errors. In the second classroom, students applied peer coaching repertoires to the answering of comprehension questions. Students read a passage together from Reading Mastery Transformations 4, asked comprehension questions provided by the program, used delayed prompting procedures for error correction, and tracked the types of prompts given to each other. Finally, students generated their own comprehension questions based off the data collected during their peer coaching delayed prompting sessions.
Symposium #13
Applications of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) for Treating Social Communication Delays in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4C/D
Area: AUT/CBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Devon White (Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford, CA)
Discussant: Grace Werner Gengoux (Stanford School of Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

A growing body of literature supports the efficacy of Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions (NDBIs) for treating young children with autism. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is one such intervention which places specific emphasis on child motivation and has demonstrated effectiveness in improving functional and social communication skills (Koegel and Koegel 2019). The current symposium illustrates recent research evaluating factors that may impact treatment responses in populations of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including parent involvement, treatment setting, intensity, duration and modalities of treatment delivery. The first study describes outcomes of a parent-training and clinician delivered PRT treatment package. The second study describes delivery of a similar PRT parent-training model via telehealth. The third study presents data from a randomized control trial of PRT parent training delivered via telehealth. Finally, the fourth study evaluates outcomes for a group of children in an intensive center-based PRT program. Findings from these studies have potential impact on understanding factors to optimize the delivery of PRT and improve access to evidence-based treatment.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Early Intervention, NDBI, Parent training, PRT
Randomized Controlled Trial of a Pivotal Response Treatment Package for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
(Applied Research)
GRACE WERNER GENGOUX (Stanford School of Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), Daniel Abrams ( Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University), Maria Millan (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Christina Ardel (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Jennifer Phillips (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Melanie Fox (PGSP - Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, California), Antonio Hardan (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California)
Abstract: Combining clinician-delivered and parent-delivered treatment is routine in clinical practice of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT). This presentation reviews data from the first 24-week randomized controlled trial comparing delayed treatment with this treatment package (PRT-P; parent training and clinician-delivered treatment). Forty-eight children with autism spectrum disorder and significant language delay between 2 and 5 years were randomly assigned to PRT-P (n = 24) or the delayed treatment group (DTG; n = 24) for 24 weeks. The effect of treatment on child communication skills was assessed via behavioral coding of parent-child interactions, standardized parent-report measures, and blinded clinician ratings. Compared with DTG, children in PRT-P demonstrated greater improvement in frequency of functional utterances (F1,41 = 6.07; p = .026; d = 0.61; see Figure). The majority of parents in the PRT-P group (91%) were able to implement PRT with fidelity within 24 weeks. Children receiving PRT-P also demonstrated greater improvement on the Brief Observation of Social Communication Change, on the Clinical Global Impressions Improvement subscale, and in number of words used on a parent-report questionnaire. Additional research is warranted to understand the optimal combination of treatment settings, intensity, and duration, and to identify child and parent characteristics associated with treatment response.
Telehealth Pivotal Response Treatment Parent Training: A Pilot Study
(Service Delivery)
ALICIA GENG (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Christina Ardel (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Elizabeth Karp (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Kari Berquist (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Grace Werner Gengoux (Stanford School of Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), Antonio Hardan (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California)
Abstract: This study aims to evaluate a telehealth model of PRT Parent Training. Twenty-one autistic children (2-6 years) with significant language delays and their parents participated. Parents attended 12 weekly telehealth parent education sessions and submitted 10-minute home videos of PRT practice before and after the study. Parent-reported communication scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale significantly increased post-intervention (t(15) = 2.80, p = 0.014). On the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI), parents reported their children were able to express more words after intervention (t(19) = 2.39, p = 0.028). Children made significantly more utterances per minute in response to parents’ non-verbal prompts in post-intervention videos, (t(20) = 2.72, p = .013). Though all other types of utterances (e.g., unintelligible, imitative, verbally-prompted) increased, the changes were not statistically significant. Analysis of videos also showed that 20 of 21 parents achieved at least 80% fidelity of overall PRT implementation and most parents (16/21) implemented all six PRT principles with fidelity. Parents reported feeling greater family empowerment after intervention (t(17) = 2.19, p = .043). Future controlled trials will be an important next step to better understand the impact of telehealth PRT parent training as a tool for overcoming intervention accessibility barriers.
Telehealth Pivotal Response Treatment Parent Training: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial
(Applied Research)
KATHERINE PASZEK (Stanford University ), Maria Millan (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Tatyana Lark (PGSP - Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, California), Jane Shkel (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Antonio Hardan (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Grace Werner Gengoux (Stanford School of Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Abstract: Determining the efficacy of telehealth methods is critical in improving access to care. The aim of this randomized controlled pilot trial was to examine the effects of training parents in PRT via telehealth (PRT-T) compared to children in a waitlist group (WL). Twenty-eight children with ASD, aged 2-5:11 years (M=4.09 ± 1.08 years) with significant language delay were randomly assigned to WL (N=13) or PRT-T (N=15), which involved 12 parent education sessions via secure video conference. Parents completed the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) at baseline and week 12 and an expert clinician naïve to treatment assignment completed the Clinical Global Impression Improvement rating (CGI-I). Children in PRT-T showed greater improvement on the CDI – Words Produced between baseline (M = 129.7 ± 92.1) and week 12 (M = 192.4 ± 111.7), compared to the WL (BL: M = 45.08 ± 55.693; Wk 12: M = 48.08 ± 66.274; F = 4.306; p = 0.048). Furthermore, on the CGI-I the PRT-T group showed more communication improvement (X2 (3, N=28) = 11.44; p = 0.010). These preliminary data suggest that delivery of PRT parent training via telehealth is a promising method for increasing access to evidence-based treatment for young children with ASD.

Randomized Controlled Trial of Center-Based Pivotal Response Treatment: Preliminary Language Outcomes From an Early Intervention Classroom

(Applied Research)
DEVON WHITE (Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford, CA; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Jane Shkel (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), morgan steele (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Maria Victoria Dalusong Bundang (Stanford Children's Health), Tanya Rego (Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford, CA), Antonio Hardan (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California), Grace Werner Gengoux (Stanford School of Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Many children with autism struggle to acquire fluent verbal communication skills in spite of early behavioral intervention. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) employs maintenance tasks and reinforcement of child attempts to motivate children to initiate communication, and may have promise for rapidly increasing independent utterances. This presentation explores the short-term benefits and geralizability of clinician-delivered, center-based PRT on the acquisition of vocal communication skills. To date, twenty-six autistic children with significant language delays between 2 and 5 years have been randomly assigned to a center-based early intervention PRT program (n = 12) or the delayed treatment group (DTG; n = 14). Available pilot data from 10-minute video samples for the first three participants indicate rapid increase in number of words used during session probes over the course of treatment (Figure 1). Data analysis will continue for the remaining participants using available 10-minute video samples to assess the frequency of child-initiated utterances pre- and post-treatment. Interobserver agreement will be assessed for 30% of the videos and coders will meet an 80% reliability standard. Implications of the findings, as well as limitations, will be discussed with emphasis on the potential utility of PRT for motivating children with ASD to speak more independently.

Symposium #17
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Economics and Public Policy
Saturday, May 27, 2023
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom C
Area: EAB/BPN; Domain: Translational
Chair: Justin Charles Strickland (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Discussant: Steven R Hursh (Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc.)
CE Instructor: Derek D. Reed, Ph.D.
Abstract: Behavioral economics is an approach to understanding behavior though integrating behavioral psychology and microeconomic principles. Advances in behavioral economics have resulted in quick-to-administer tasks to assess discounting (i.e., decrements in the subjective value of a commodity due to delayed or probabilistic receipt) and demand (i.e., effort exerted to defend baseline consumption of a commodity amidst increasing constraints)—these tasks are built upon decades of foundational work from the experimental analysis of behavior and exhibit adequate psychometric properties. We propose that the behavioral economic approach is particularly well suited, then, for experimentally evaluating potential public policy decisions, particularly during urgent times or crises. This symposium showcases four unique areas in which behavioral economics can inform policy, beyond the popularized area of application in substance use. We are honored to have Dr. Steve Hursh as discussant to provide general commentary on these talks and this topic.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): behavioral economics, demand curves, discounting, public policy
Target Audience: Intermediate. Attendees should have foundational knowledge in behavioral economics.
Learning Objectives: describe behavioral economic tasks that can inform policy; identify behavioral economic metrics relevant to policymakers; discuss advantages of a behavioral economic approach to policy development
Using Commodity Purchase Tasks to Inform and Evaluate Policy
(Applied Research)
DEREK D. REED (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Consumers decide what to purchase, under conditions of constraint (e.g., commodity price). According to behavioral economic demand, commodity purchase task (CPT) can measure hypothetical decisions about purchases under varied simulated policy conditions (e.g., introduction of new cigarette taxes, happy hour drinking specials). These tasks permit rapid data collection without sacrificing methodological rigor or the validity of conclusions reached. The CPT allows researchers to simulate new policies, to determine their relative risks and benefits, thus offering an opportunity to optimize prior to rollout. Behavioral outcomes related to consumer purchases also make the CPT data readily translatable to policymakers, including constituent health behavior. This presentation provides a brief background on CPTs, a review of literature related to policy-aimed CPTs, and a start on best practices for other behavioral scientists interested in applying CPT to inform public policy efforts.
Using Behavioral Economics to Optimize Safer Undergraduate Late-Night Transportation
(Applied Research)
BRETT GELINO (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Madison Graham (University of Kansas; Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment), Justin Charles Strickland (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Hannah Glatter (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Many university campuses sponsor student-oriented transit services as part of a broader student safety initiative. Such options could prove effective in reducing alcohol-induced risks, but only if services adequately anticipate and adapt to student needs. Human choice data offer a foundation from which to plan and optimally execute late-night transit services. In this simulated choice experiment, respondents opted to either (a) wait an escalating delay for a free, university-sponsored “safe” option, (b) pay an escalating fee for an on-demand rideshare service, or (c) pick a free, immediately available “unsafe” option (e.g., ride with an alcohol-impaired driver). We fit averaged choice-data using operant behavioral economic nonlinear modeling to examine preference across arrangements. Best-fit metrics indicate adequate sensitivity to contextual factors (i.e., wait time, preceding late-night activity). At short delay, students generally preferred the free transit option. As delays extend (i.e., beyond 30 minutes), most students shifted preference toward competing alternatives. These data depict a policy-relevant delay threshold as a target to better safeguard undergraduate student safety.
Behavioral Economic Considerations for Tornado Hazard Mitigation Strategies
(Applied Research)
MADISON GRAHAM (University of Kansas; Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment), Brett Gelino (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Elaina Sutley (University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: The present study describes an interdisciplinary collaboration between behavioral economists and engineers to begin modeling the effects of tornado hazard messaging on adults’ shelter seeking behavior. We will describe our experimental efforts to crowdsource data collection across regions most impacted by tornadoes, as well as our translational efforts to apply behavioral economic principles to understanding how decisions to seek shelter are influenced by messaging components such as impact descriptors, storm intensity, as well as other factors such as availability of adequate shelters and delays/speeds of storms. Finally, we will report how framing the messaging of tornado impacts may have significant effects on improving shelter seeking behavior to ultimately increase tornado safety.

It’s the Prices, Stupid: Modeling Barriers to Healthcare Utilization With Behavioral Economics

(Basic Research)
MARK JUSTIN RZESZUTEK (University of Kentucky)

The United States has the highest per capita healthcare spending in the world, but some of the worst healthcare outcomes. The US lags behind other similarly developed countries with regard to life expectancy and preventable deaths in spite of US healthcare costs being nearly twice that of comparable countries. A major factor that could be responsible for this are the upfront costs of healthcare access being placed on the individual in forms of private insurance, co-pays, and deductibles, thus deterring healthcare utilization. Three experiments using crowdsourced samples (Amazon Mechanical Turk, 200 per experiment) were conducted to examine how hypothetical healthcare seeking for three common symptoms (headache, nausea, and cough) was affected by duration of symptoms, severity of symptoms, and cost to access healthcare. Decision-making generally followed a hyperbolic form, while increased costs of healthcare resulted in significant delays of access to healthcare regardless of symptom severity. Shallower delay discounting was positively associated with physical health, while steeper delay discounting was positively associated with earlier treatment seeking. The results of these experiments can provide insight into health decision-making and help inform areas of policy reform to improve health outcomes in the US.

Symposium #20
CE Offered: BACB
Selecting and Teaching Meaningful Skills for Adolescents With Autism
Saturday, May 27, 2023
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jennifer Posey (Endicott College)
CE Instructor: Shanna Bahry, Ph.D.

There has been a long standing call for the application of applied behavior analysis to problems of social importance. Applied behavior analysis practitioners are encouraged to provide socially valid care and to affect meaningful change. To do so, a practitioner must first identify meaningful goals and then teach them. This symposium will include a discussion on the evaluation of a training package designed to teach practitioners of behavior analysis to write meaningful goals. The presentation will also discuss strategies for teaching meaningful goals related to bullying and sexuality education to adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). An overview of goal selection, teaching procedures, and effectiveness of teaching will be discussed. This symposium will also include recommendations for future directions for the goals of ABA as pertaining to meaningful programming.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): bullying, meaningful goals, sexuality, Social validity
Target Audience:

The audience should include practicing behavior analysts or behavior analysts in training (BCBA, BCaBA), looking either to refine practice skills or prepare to utilize best practices after becoming certified. Prerequisite skills should include an understanding of basic behavior analytic principles, experience working with adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder or another developmental or intellectual disability, and preferably experience writing skill acquisition goals and developing programming for these clients. The presentations in this symposium will enhance practice abilities for those working with and writing goals for these populations within the context of a behavior analytic lens.

Learning Objectives: After attending this session, participants will be able to: (1) Identify factors that play a role in achieving quality outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. Identify what does and what does not constitute a meaningful goal for a client, and discuss tools that may be useful in writing meaningful goals. (2) Describe the importance of sexuality education and identify resources to required to provide comprehensive sex education to people on the autism spectrum. (3) Describe the importance of bullying prevention teaching specifically as it pertains to individuals on the autism spectrum. (4) Identify social goals related to bullying prevention that can be defined and taught using ABA strategies.

Examining the Effects of a Treatment Package Aimed at Improving the Writing of Meaningful Goals to Affect Outcomes in Adulthood

(Applied Research)
SHANNA BAHRY (Endicott College; Meaningful HOPE Inc.), Peter F. Gerhardt (The EPIC School; Endicott College), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation)

While the field of applied behavior analysis is in a position to affect meaningful change in the outcomes of clients on the autism spectrum, it is currently coming short of doing so. This presentation will show that while research exists for teaching how to write goals structurally, there is a gap in the literature for teaching practitioners how to write goals that are meaningful and impact adult outcomes. Data will be presented from a treatment package aimed at guiding the goal writing of behavior analyst practitioners to help increase the inclusion of goals that are meaningful, socially valid, and highly individualized in order to positively impact the trajectory of a client with autism.


The Effects of The Teaching Interaction Procedure to Teach Adolescents to Respond to Bullying

(Applied Research)
ASHLEY CREEM (Cultivate Behavioral Health and Education), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Joseph H. Cihon (Autism Partnership Foundation; Endicott College), Christine Milne-Seminara (Autism Partnership Foundation), Julia Ferguson (Autism Partnership Foundation)

Adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly display deficits with social communication, including difficulties with communicating their thoughts and feelings, advocating, and resolving conflict. These deficits make it difficult for adolescents with ASD to effectively respond to bullying, which places them at a significantly increased risk of being bullied than that of typically developing peers. This increased risk indicates the importance of remediating social skills deficits correlated with an increased risk of bullying. One intervention shown to effectively increase social skills for adolescents with ASD is the Teaching Interaction Procedure (TIP). This presentation will review the effectiveness of the TIP for teaching three adolescents diagnosed with ASD to emit a chain of social responses in response to being bullied.


Teaching Component Skills Related to Sexuality Safety to People With Autism Spectrum Disorders

(Applied Research)
JESSICA J. CAUCHI (none), Peter F. Gerhardt (The EPIC School), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation)

Sexuality education is extremely important for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). While there is much research supporting the need for sexuality education for people with autism, there is little experimental demonstration of teaching about sexuality for this population. This presentation will review a study which used an adapted alternating treatment design with control to evaluate two teaching methods (discrete trial teaching and behavioural skills training) to teach three children with autism two component skills related to sexuality safety. An in-situ probe was used to assess demonstration of skill in a natural environment setting. While all participants acquired both skills in teaching settings, in either teaching modality, in-situ probes of skill were demonstrated with variability and inconsistency for all participants. Future directions related to in-situ responding, as well as teaching component sexuality skills are suggested.

Symposium #32
CE Offered: BACB — 
Optimizing Employee Performance at Multiple Organizational Levels
Saturday, May 27, 2023
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Mineral Hall A-C
Area: OBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sharlet D. Rafacz (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Nicole Gravina (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Sharlet D. Rafacz, Ph.D.

There are a number of assessments and interventions that are utilized to improve performance in organizations. However, how and when to use these assessments and interventions requires further research. The current symposium looks at several studies aimed at optimizing employee performance, that is, knowing what to intervene on, in what way, and at what organizational level to make the best use of resources. The first two studies will focus on treatment integrity – first at the performer level and second at the systems level. We will provide data on how procedural errors impact treatment integrity and discuss how analyzing them at the systems (organizational) level informs intervention. The second two studies will then highlight how we can utilize untapped resources and customize multi-component interventions. Specifically, we will present research on using co-worker communication to motivate employee performance and how priority weighting and goal difficulty affects behavior and results on performance scorecards. Implications for how these findings can influence decisions and interventions organization-wide will then be discussed. Overall, these studies will highlight how data can be utilized to enhance employee behavior and provide guidance to organizations on how to select and customize interventions for optimal employee performance.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Organizations, Performer, Systems, Wokplace
Target Audience:

Intermediate – Background and/or education in ABA, familiar with single-subject and group design research methodology, understanding of rule-governed behavior

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe how procedural errors affect learning post-mastery 2. Identify the benefits of aggregating and analyzing treatment integrity data and several actions supervisors can take with these results 3. Describe how motivational statements impact performance and the benefits of incorporating co-workers as a source for these statements 4. Critically evaluate the priority weight component of performance scorecards
A Parametric Analysis of Procedural Integrity Errors Following Mastery of a Task: A Translational Study
(Basic Research)
LEA JONES (California State University, Sacramento), Denys Brand (California State University, Sacramento), Galan Falakfarsa (California State University, Sacramento), Joshua Bensemann (University of Auckland (New Zealand)), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento), Megan R. Heinicke (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: Procedural integrity can best be described as the extent to which interventions are implemented as intended. Previous research has shown that errors involving consequences can delay or impede skill acquisition. However, not much research has been conducted to evaluate the extent to which such errors affect performance for skills that have previously been mastered under conditions of perfect integrity. To further examine this question, a group design was used to administer a computerized match-to-sample task to 100 undergraduate students. Participants first completed 250 trials with no programmed errors, which was followed by an additional 250 trials with varying levels of errors delivered across conditions (i.e., 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% integrity). The results showed that, on average, those assigned to higher integrity conditions performed better, while performance for those in the lower integrity conditions deteriorated rapidly. These results extend the findings of prior studies and further demonstrates how consequence-based errors affect behavior across various stages of learning.

An Analysis of Large-Scale Procedural Integrity Data

(Applied Research)
ABIGAIL BLACKMAN (Behavior Science Technology), Tricia Glick (Behavior Science Technology), Troy Glick (Behavior Science Technology )

Procedural integrity is the extent to which an intervention is implemented as designed (Gresham, 2004). Research shows that integrity impacts clinical outcomes (e.g., DiGennaro et al., 2005; Gresham et al., 1993). That is, higher clinical outcomes are associated with higher levels of integrity. Supervisors are tasked with the responsibility to collect integrity data on their team’s performance, as required by the board (BACB, 2020). However, it is unknown how these data are collected, or what analysis and subsequent action supervisors or organizational leaders take once the data are collected. With the permission of our customers, deidentified integrity data were aggregated and analyzed across a few hundred employees. All data were collected electronically and aggregated to display performance over time. Based on these data, suggestions for subsequent supervisor and organization-wide action are provided to improve their organization-wide and team’s performance, and ultimately impact clinical outcomes. We posit that organizations must use their integrity data to guide their individual, team, and organization-wide supervision efforts. The benefits of aggregating and analyzing integrity data, as well as recommendations for what supervisors should do with those data are discussed.


Does Source Matter? Examining the Differential Effects of Supervisor Versus Co-worker Delivered Motivational Statements

(Applied Research)
SEAN BORBOA (California State University, Fresno ), Sharlet D. Rafacz (Western Michigan University)

Recent research suggests that statements by supervisors may function as verbal motivating operations and alter employee performance, but it is unknown if similar effects would be seen if delivered by another source. The supervisor is usually the primary agent of change in performance management practices. However, given the numerous job responsibilities of a supervisor, it would be beneficial to examine the potential effects of interventions delivered by a source other than the supervisor, such as a co-worker. The current study used an analogue work setting with a simulated new hire orientation, a confederate supervisor and co-worker, and concurrently available work tasks. There were 10 participants and a single-subject, counterbalanced reversal design was used to investigate the effects of alternative sources of rule statement delivery on employee performance. Despite some mixed results, overall findings support the performance-enhancing effects of motivational statements. Additionally, responding to the different sources delivering the motivational statements (i.e., co-worker versus supervisor) was comparable and suggests the source of rule delivery in organizations may not matter. As such, it is possible that motivational statements delivered by co-workers is a viable, cost-effective way to motivate employee performance, though additional research is needed to confirm these findings.


The Effects of Priority Weights on Performance Scorecards

(Applied Research)
SHARLET RAFACZ (Western Michigan University), Alfonso Hernandez (California State University, Fresno)

The field of Organization Behavior Management (OBM) frequently utilizes multi-component interventions, one of which is the performance scorecard. The performance scorecard combines elements such as goal setting, feedback and reinforcement to increase 3-5 behaviors or results. In addition, these behaviors/results are weighted so that some types of performance receive more credit than others. It has been suggested that this is beneficial and communicates relative priorities to employees, but how this affects performance has yet to be empirically tested. Therefore, the present study investigated manipulation of priority weighting and the effect on performance on concurrently available tasks in a workplace analogue. The study included five participants and utilized a single-subject multiple baseline and reversal design to compare equally-weighted and priority-weighted scorecards. Overall, there was an increase in performance when a scorecard was introduced relative to baseline (no scorecard condition). Results also suggested that priority weighting had some influence on behavior, including increases in behavior weighted more heavily but also decreases in behaviors weighted less heavily. However, additional variables such as goal difficulty and task preference, also influenced the effects of the priority weights and deserve further consideration.

Symposium #35
CE Offered: BACB
When Number 2 is Your Number 1 Concern: Solutions for Bowel Movement Training Challenges
Saturday, May 27, 2023
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1E/F
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Maeve G. Donnelly (Northeastern University)
Discussant: Brandon C. Perez (Northern Illinois University)
CE Instructor: Maeve G. Donnelly, Ph.D.
Abstract: Most behavior analytic toileting research is dedicated to urinary continence. However, when bowel movement continence is not achieved it can quickly become the number one concern for caregivers due to the impact bowel incontinence can have on an individual’s health and independence. Achieving bowel continence has far-reaching health and social benefits. When concomitant improvements in bowel movements do not occur once urine training is achieved, practitioners need to consider an array of factors related to the assessment and treatment of bowel movements. This symposium will provide an overview of the behavioral literature in this area with recommendations for future research as well as provide practical strategies for the assessment and treatment of bowel movement problems, through an applied study that focuses on treatment strategies for existing toileting habits that delay bowel movement training.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Assessment, Bowel continence, Shaping, Toileting
Target Audience: The target audience for this symposium is active practitioners in the field of behavior analysis working with clients who do not display bowel continence. The literature review component of the symposium is designed to identify researched interventions for bowel incontinence to assist practitioners in identifying potential interventions that may be used to resolve bowel incontinence. This paper also includes a call to expand research related to this topic with specific suggestions for both researchers and practitioners. The second paper presents a model for addressing stalled acquisition of bowel training with a specific assessment followed by an intervention based on shaping and fading. Participant data are shared. The discussant has recently (2021) published a paper on this topic in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: 1) List and describe commonly researched bowel movement training components 2) Identify several factors to consider in the assessment and treatment of bowel movement issues 3) Outline a framework for shaping bowel movement routines in the context of toilet training
Let’s Get This Potty Started! A Review of the Bowel Movement Training Literature
MAEVE G. DONNELLY (Northeastern University)
Abstract: Bowel and urinary continence are associated with nearly universal health and social benefits, and, thus, toileting skills are a common behavioral goal across populations. Review of the literature in this area reveals that most behavior analytic toileting research is dedicated to urine training. Relatively fewer studies have focused on bowel movement training, perhaps due to the frequent use of medical interventions or because concomitant improvements in bowel movements once urine training is achieved may reduce the need for specific intervention (e.g., Perez et al., 2021). However, absence of healthy bowel movements can result in severe health problems requiring extensive medical intervention. This absence may be due to medical issues, behavioral deficits, or a combination of both medical and behavioral influences. Practitioners seeking to improve bowel movement success in their clients will need to consider an array of factors in the assessment and treatment of bowel movement problems. This paper presents a summary of the behavioral literature in this area and describes recommendations for future research in the treatment of bowel movement problems.
Individualized Shaping Procedures to Support Bowel Movement Toilet Training
(Applied Research)
MAIA JACKSON (Summa Academy), Candice Colón (LEARN ), Alison Spanoghe (LEARN Behavioral)
Abstract: In some cases, children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) may acquire toileting habits that delay bowel movement toilet training. In addition, some children may also engage in behavior (e.g., aggression) that can interfere with bowel movement training. Due to the social learning impairments associated with ASD, interventions that promote a gradual approach, promote assent and reduce avoidance may be necessary. Previous research has shown that shaping decreases challenging behavior and increases new behavioral habits. However, very few studies have been conducted strictly in the area of BM production and none of these studies have accounted for the child’s strict behavioral routine/habits that contribute to their lack of progress towards bowel movement production on the toilet. This study replicated and extended the literature regarding shaping procedures for toilet training via a multiple probe design. In this study, children who were reliant on an absorbent brief and other specific environmental factors to produce a bowel movement were taught to instead produce bowel movements on the toilet in the absence of challenging behavior. Social validity data reported by caregivers who participated in the study indicated that the training procedure was acceptable and feasible under the direction of the clinical team and able to be maintained by the caregivers thereafter. Interobserver agreement was conducted in at least 30% of all sessions and the mean agreement was 100% for bowel movement production and at least 83% for challenging behavior across all participants.
Symposium #43
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Backyard Behavior Science: How Technology Allows Weekend Warriors to Conduct Research
Saturday, May 27, 2023
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom B
Area: EAB/AAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Adrienne Jennings (Daemen University)
CE Instructor: David J. Cox, Ph.D.
Abstract: Science can be defined as the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Historically, people may associate "doing science" with highly controlled laboratory or clinical settings, highly trained specialists, and significant amounts of funding for equipment and personnel. Assuming science can only be conducted under such specific conditions also assumes that only those with access to such conditions can advance our understanding of the physical and natural world. To this we say hogwash. The definition of science offered above highlights there are many ways to "do science" that anyone can participate in starting today. In this symposium we provide three demonstrations of how behavior science enthusiasts — in their free time, around existing commitments, and without breaking the bank — used their "backyard" to conduct translational research on behavior-environment relations. Importantly, recent advances in technology and computer science allow for any behavior science enthusiast to pick up similar tools and to start asking questions about the behavior of biological and artificial organismic behavior.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): artificial intelligence, citizen science, technology, translational research
Target Audience: Behavior analysts seeking to better understand basic principles and processes of behavior.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe simple setups for studying nonhuman animal behavior in their backyard; (2) describe simple robotics setups for studying behavior; (3) identify how 1 and 2 allow behavior analysts to learn about basic operant and respondent behavioral principles and processes.
Diversity submission Back Porch Studies: Not a Birden at All
JAVIER SOTOMAYOR (Endicott College & Habita), Asim Javed (Endicott College), David J. Cox (RethinkFirst; Endicott College), Jacob Sosine (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence)
Abstract: There are over 50 billion wild birds on Earth – six times the number of humans – comprised of more than 18,000 different species. Although scientists have studied birds for centuries, they have largely focused on less than 1,000 species based on aesthetics, commonality, or a close relation to human affairs (e.g., food, sport). The remaining 94% of wild bird species are, thus, relatively understudied in terms of behavioral repertoires such as food preferences, feeding schedules, and interspecies and intraspecies competition. Relatedly, one may assume that studying wild birds requires a highly controlled environment, advanced equipment, and a large amount of funds. Think again! This presentation describes how behavior or birding enthusiasts alike can study birds on one’s back porch through simple methods and tools such as off-the-shelf cameras (e.g., Ring), suction cups, birdseed, and a little coding; all for under $150. More specifically, we describe how a simple setup allowed us to study six bird species in the North Shore region of Massachusetts, what we learned about bird behavioral ecology (and ourselves), and how the results of this work can bring behavior science into anyone’s backyard. Overall, we hope this talk inspires future backyard studies by demonstrating it’s not too much of a birden.
Diversity submission Squirreling Around: A Simple Setup to Study Sciuridae as They Scurry for Science
JACOB SOSINE (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence), David J. Cox (RethinkFirst; Endicott College), Asim Javed (Endicott College), Javier Sotomayor (Endicott College & Habita)
Abstract: In the past decade, consumer-level technology has become increasingly cheaper, more advanced in its primary utility, and easier for non-expert individuals to interact with and use in novel ways. Simultaneously, our data-driven culture has led technology to collect, store, transmit, and automate the analyses of increasingly larger datasets. This improved mixture of technological form and function allows us to use technology in novel and creative ways. For behavior analysts, technological advancements offer new methods to efficiently and accurately collect data on behavior-environment relations. In this backyard science project, we used commercially available products (costing under $99) to observe and analyze the behavioral patterns of members of the Sciuridae species (i.e., squirrels). In this presentation, we demonstrate how similar backyard behavior science enthusiasts can use simple techniques and existing computer technology to measure: time allocation, automate reinforcer delivery based on prescribed schedules, and detect animal positioning from a two-dimensional video stream. Audience members should walk away with a general understanding of how they can begin to leverage easy-to-use consumer-level technology for their own backyard science projects.
Diversity submission Robots as Ends in Themselves: How Robots Can Teach Us About Behavioral Principles
DAVID J. COX (RethinkFirst; Endicott College), Jacob Sosine (Behavioral Health Center of Excellence), Asim Javed (Endicott College), Javier Sotomayor (Endicott College & Habita)
Abstract: Behavior scientists from behavior analysis and behavioral ecology have used robots to study and change the behavior of organisms through social interactions (e.g., teach technicians to conduct therapy, condition verbal behavior, study social stimuli in nonhuman animals). Often, the utility of robots was to precisely control an independent variable that would be difficult to control with the same precision if the social partner were a living, biological organism. That is, robots were a means to an end. In this presentation, we describe how robots can be used as ends in themselves to learn about behavior-environment relations via robotics kits costing under $150. Faculty might find robots a cheap alternative to teach basic behavioral principles in an age of dwindling funds for basic nonhuman animal labs. Basic researchers might find robots useful to study how basic behavioral processes interact without extra-experimental bio-behavioral processes getting in the way. And, behavior enthusiasts might find robots useful to learn how behavior is determined by many processes within a whole organism as opposed to focusing only on isolated Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence units.
Symposium #64
Defining Assent and the Risks-Benefits of Overriding Assent Withdrawal
Saturday, May 27, 2023
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center 406/407
Area: TBA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Kathleen I Dyer (Endicott College)
Discussant: Jessica J. Cauchi (none)

Although guidance has been provided to ensure willingness to participate in programs/treatment, or assent, a clear definition to govern observation and data based decisions is needed. A concept analysis (c.f. abstract tact, Skinner, 1957) is utilized to functionally define the critical features of assent thereby providing practitioners and researchers common ground on which to build methodology. By providing a comprehensive definition, assent can be obtained in many instances via conducive program arrangements (e.g., conjugate reinforcement, shaping, and composite repertoires). Additionally, there are instances when assent may be withdrawn. In this scenario, clinicians either honor the withdrawal of assent, or override it. Considerations for why it would be appropriate to continue treatment without assent or following the withdrawal of assent will be reviewed. A preliminary decision model consisting of different contextual variables for consideration will be reviewed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Assent, Constructional, Ethics, Risk Benefit
A Nonlinear Contingency Analysis of Assent
SHEILA ANN ANN KLICK (Endicott College), Anna Linnehan (Endicott College ), Awab Abdel-Jalil (Endicott College / Great Leaps Academy / Eastern Florida Autism Center), Kyle Hetzel (San Francisco Zoo ), Richele Yeich (Eastern Florida AUtism Center; Great Leaps Academy), Jonathan Amey (AIMS Instruction)
Abstract: Although guidance has been provided to ensure willingness to participate in programs/treatment, or assent, a clear definition to govern observation and data based decisions is needed. A concept analysis (c.f. abstract tact, Skinner, 1957) is utilized to functionally define the critical features of assent thereby providing practitioners and researchers common ground on which to build methodology. By providing a comprehensive definition, assent can be obtained in many instances via conducive program arrangements (e.g., conjugate reinforcement, shaping, and composite repertoires). Additionally, there are instances when assent may be withdrawn. In this scenario, clinicians either honor the withdrawal of assent, or override it. Considerations for why it would be appropriate to continue treatment without assent or following the withdrawal of assent will be reviewed. A preliminary decision model consisting of different contextual variables for consideration will be reviewed.
A Risk Benefit Analysis of Assent
STEPHANIE BENDUSH (Endicott College), Justin B. Leaf (Endicott College; Autism Partnership Foundation), Jill Harper (Melmark New England)
Abstract: There is an ongoing effort for assent-based clinical practice in behavior analysis. Willing participation is an important component of Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) therapy, but there exists scant guidance from the literature on how to achieve assent, levels of assent deemed appropriate for clients of different skill levels, nor how to proceed should a client withdraw assent. The withdrawal of assent in particular can be addressed through a Risk Benefit Analysis adapted from Bailey and Burch (2016). This model will provide clinicians with a starting point for overriding withdrawal of assent and determining when honoring withdrawal is appropriate. This clinical tool is intended to be used proactively, but can also provide guidance to clinicians needing to make in the moment decisions.
Symposium #67
CE Offered: BACB
Experimental, Applied, and Translational Research on Olfactory Stimulus Control in Rats and Dogs
Saturday, May 27, 2023
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom C
Area: EAB/AAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Annie Galizio (Middle Tennessee State University)
Discussant: Mark Galizio (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Annie Galizio, Ph.D.
Abstract: Conducting behavioral research in nonhuman animals requires that stimuli be presented in a modality appropriate for the subject. For rodents and canines, the dominant sense is olfaction. Given their keen sense of smell, rats and dogs would benefit from the use of olfactory stimuli in behavioral experiments. In this symposium, the presenters will share some recent research in the use of olfactory stimuli when working with rats and dogs. First, Dr. Jay Hinnenkamp will present a series of experiments in which olfactory stimuli were used as reinforcers to maintain responding in rats. Next, Sophia Kirkland will describe a self-made apparatus used to deliver olfactory stimuli into an operant chamber and establish stimulus control in rats. The final two presentations will focus on olfactory research with dogs. Dr. Nathaniel Hall will explain how canine olfactory detection may be a useful tool to limit the spread of microscopic invasive species. Finally, Dr. Timothy Edwards will present some of the challenges that arise when dogs are used to detect lung cancer. To conclude, Dr. Mark Galizio, who has significant experience with olfactory stimulus control in rats, will discuss the presentations and their contributions to our understanding of behavioral control by olfactory stimuli.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): dog, olfaction, rat, stimulus control
Target Audience: The target audience for this symposium is anyone who is interested in olfactory stimulus control and its potential applications for socially significant concerns. This includes students, researchers, and practitioners, especially those interested in work with rats or dogs. The translational nature of this symposium would appeal to basic researchers, applied researchers, and anyone interested in applied animal behavior. The ideal participant will have at least a basic understanding of the concepts of stimulus control and reinforcement.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the use of olfactory stimuli as reinforcers for rats' behavior; (2) describe an apparatus for presenting olfactory stimuli to rats; (3) describe the application of olfactory stimulus control for canine detection of invasive species and lung cancer.
An Investigation of Olfactory Stimuli as Reinforcers for Female Rats’ Nose-Poking Behavior
(Basic Research)
JAY HINNENKAMP (Middle Tennessee State University), Annie Galizio (Middle Tennessee State University), Alexander Dunthorn (Middle Tennesse State University), Jordan Latham (Middle Tennessee State University), Mark Rust (Middle Tennessee State University)
Abstract: A variety of items and events, including food, water, cool air streams, and electrical brain stimulation have been shown to maintain responding in rats. This presentation will show data from three studies investigating the effects of contingent olfactory stimuli on responding in female rats. Across the three experiments, social, nonsocial, and control scents were created by blowing air through jars containing used rat bedding, clean rat bedding mixed with essential oils, and clean rat bedding, respectively. In the following experiments rats emitted nose-poke responses, and each response was followed by a brief puff of air from either a social, nonsocial, or control scent. Experiment 1 explored the ability of social and nonsocial olfactory stimuli to establish and maintain nose-poking responses in rats not deprived of food or water. Experiment 2 investigated the relative value of social and nonsocial olfactory stimuli within a free-operant choice procedure. Experiment 3 examined the effects of social isolation on rats’ preference for social and nonsocial stimuli. Clinical and theoretical implications for the results of all three experiments will be discussed.
Using Ambient Odor as an Independent Variable in Rat Training
(Basic Research)
SOPHIA BELLE KIRKLAND (University of North Texas), April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to construct a functional ambient odor delivery and removal system, which can be used in an operant setting to train lever pressing in rats contingent on the manipulation of olfactory stimuli. Because ambient odors are contained in odorant particles suspended in the air, it is difficult for experimenters to manipulate these odorant stimuli with the same precision as auditory and visual stimuli. This is often achieved by using restricted odor-presenting apparatuses that require animals to nose poke in order to contact odorants, but such approaches do not allow for stimulus presentation from anywhere in the chamber or during nose poke-incompatible behavior, as is easier for visual and auditory modalities. Using an ambient odor which is suspended in the chamber surrounding the organism rather than simply in a restricted portal allows the organism to move freely while maintaining contact with the desired stimulus. I designed a wind tunnel-based apparatus for such odorant presentation, which controls unidirectional airflow through the chamber to present and remove scented air. In this presentation, I will share the rationale and design of the chamber, challenges that came along during its development, and experimental data collected using the apparatus.
Canine Olfactory Detection of Invasive Mussel Veligers
(Applied Research)
NATHANIEL HALL (Texas Tech University), Ashley Whitehead (Texas Tech University), Kaitlin Plate (Texas Tech University), Paul Bunker (Chiron K9, Somerset, TX), Debra DeShon (Mussel Dogs, Oakdale, CA), Bethany Steinkraus (Mussel Dogs, Oakdale, CA), Matthew Barnes (Texas Tech University )
Abstract: Invasive Dreissenid mussels act as ecosystem engineers having significant impact on native communities, frequently causing substantial economic damages. Mussel larvae (veligers) disperse and spread, typically through transport on watercraft, causing new invasions. Canine detection of these microscopic invasive freshwater mussel veligers maybe a real-time detection tool to help limit spread. This study used an automated olfactometer system to evaluate (1) whether dogs can be trained to detect water samples containing veligers (2) the minimum veliger concentration dogs can detect, and (3) accuracy of canines screening unknown lake samples for veliger presence. The results of the three studies will be presented with discussion of the potential context in which canine veliger detection may be useful.

Challenges With Stimulus Control in Lung Cancer Detection With Dogs

(Applied Research)
TIMOTHY EDWARDS (University of Waikato), Catherina Chang (Department of Respiratory Medicine, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand ), Clare Browne (School of Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand ), Michael Jameson (University of Auckland, Waikato Clinical Campus, Hamilton, New Zealand)

Dogs have been trained for lung cancer detection, but the methods and results have varied widely. We aimed to clarify dogs’ capacity to detect lung cancer under operationally viable conditions. Using an automated apparatus, we trained dogs to indicate the presence of breath samples from individuals with lung cancer. We then conducted a blind test by interspersing samples of unknown status among samples with known status so that correct indications could be reinforced intermittently. Despite efforts to make blind samples indistinguishable from training samples, we observed a significant bias away from indicating blind samples as positive. We also observed a significant reduction in accuracy with both blind samples and training samples during the blind test. Following the blind test, we retrained the dogs and recovered the higher accuracy initially obtained. These findings raise some critical theoretical questions related to stimulus control. Notably, the findings suggest that highly complex discriminations are more likely to be disrupted by intermittent reinforcement than simple discriminations; they also suggest that alternative sources of stimulus control are more likely to emerge with complex discriminations. The findings also raise practical questions related to the clinical utility of dogs as detectors of cancer.

Symposium #101
CE Offered: BACB
Graduate Program Course Content: Implications for Education and Training for the Field
Saturday, May 27, 2023
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center 406/407
Area: TBA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Caitlyn Peal (University of Nevada, Reno )
CE Instructor: Jana M. Sarno, Ph.D.
Abstract: Graduate training programs in behavior analysis are tasked with developing well-rounded and competent behavior analysts. To help ensure the quality of education in behavior analysis, professional organizations such as the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) provide standards, guidance, and oversight of courses and educational training. However, within the guidelines and standards set by the BACB and ABAI, there is significant leeway in terms of the what material is covered and how it is taught. In this symposium, we will present data from three projects that sought to evaluate the content and approach to teaching in behavior analysis graduate training programs. Caitlyn Peal will present data gathered from a survey of Verified Course Sequence (VCS) instructors on what philosophical topics are included in graduate courses. Leonora Ryland will present the results of a review of syllabi from VCS programs regarding instruction on norm- and criterion-referenced skills assessments. Jana Sarno will then present data from a survey study that assessed the education and training experiences of behavior analysts in administering standardized skills assessments
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): assessment, graduate training, philosophy
Target Audience: intermediate
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe the importance of teaching a breadth of philosophical topics in behavior analysis graduate training programs (2) Explain the utility of norm- and criterion-references skills assessments (3) Describe the importance of specific training in conducting standardized assessments
The State of Teaching Philosophy in Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Training Programs
CAITLYN PEAL (University of Nevada, Reno), Bethany P. Contreras Young (University of Nevada, Reno), Matthew Lewon (University of Nevada, Reno), Nicholas L Vitale (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: While many graduate training programs likely place a focus on the applied domain of the broader field of behavior analysis, many would argue that training in philosophical issues is just as important. This is reflected in the requirements for both Verified Course Sequences (VCS) and Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) accredited programs – both require at least 45 hours of instruction in topics related to the philosophical underpinnings of behavior analysis. While these requirements attest to the importance ascribed to training in philosophy, they allow significant leeway in terms of the material that is covered. In light of this, the purpose of the present study was to assess the state of training in philosophy in VCS programs, which train the majority of behavior analytic practitioners. We sent a survey to all VCS program coordinators and asked them to report on the importance of teaching philosophical issues, commonly assigned readings, and topics included in courses. We found that instructors generally ascribe importance to training in philosophical topics. We also found that, while a range of philosophical topics and assigned readings were reported, the majority of VCS instructors seem to be including a narrow range of topics and readings in their courses.

Assessment Training in Behavior Analysis: A Review of Syllabi

(Applied Research)
KRISTEN L. PADILLA (Baylor University), Leonora Ryland (Baylor University ), Benjamin N. Witts (St. Cloud State University), Ryan Farmer (University of Memphis ), Shane McLoughlin (University of Birmingham-Edgbaston )

Due to the increased usage of norm- and criterion-referenced assessments in the field, it is crucial that programs integrate more comprehensive assessment education and training. Behavior analysts have an ethical obligation to accurately administer assessments and understand reliability and validity evidence to support the use of assessments. Behavior analysts need proper education and training in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of assessment data along with the psychometric properties of assessments. The purpose of this study is to identify the breadth and depth of assessment coverage in behavior analysis graduate training programs. Twenty syllabi from Association for Behavior Analysis International Verified Course Sequence (ABAI-VCS) registered programs were reviewed and analyzed. Data were extracted on program components, such as geographic location, type and format of program, and degree area. Data were also extracted on types of assessment content (e.g., norm- and criterion-referenced), semi-structured/standardized types of assessments, psychometric properties (e.g., reliability, validity), readings, assignments, and incorporation of task list items from the BCBA Task List (5th ed.; BACB, 2017). Results indicate that the majority training programs lack educational content and training experiences external to the assessment content and evidence typically covered in behavior analysis (e.g., social validity, interobserver agreement, functional behavior assessment).

State of Current Practice and Training with Norm-Referenced Assessments: A Preliminary Analysis
JANA M. SARNO (Hopebridge ), Kristen L. Padilla (Baylor University), Leonora Ryland (Baylor University ), Monserrat Austin (Baylor University)
Abstract: With the increasing prevalence of developmental disabilities, in particular autism spectrum disorder (ASD), coupled with the rising popularity of ABA and related assessments, there is a growing need for research in this area to evaluate assessment training, coursework, and supervision of assessment use. Historically, assessment education and training has primarily focused on functional behavioral assessments to determine functions of behavior and to develop appropriate intervention plans. Moreover, behavior analysts working in the field are expected to now administer norm-referenced assessments as required by insurance policies (Padilla 2020). The state of standardized assessment training has yet to be evaluated in the field of ABA. This study sought to identify the training experience and competency of behavior analysts in the administration, scoring, and interpretation of norm-referenced assessments. Preliminary results of the survey indicate a small number of respondents (N=212), with a majority of respondents being practitioners (58.1% are BCBAs [N=119]; 25.4% are BCBA-Ds [N=52]; 16.6% are current students [N=34]). With regard to the perceived purpose or usage of norm-referenced assessments while practitioners disagreed that data obtained from norm-referenced assessments provide no clinical use for practice (63% Strongly Disagree/Disagree), many identify that “many behavior analysts have not used norm-referenced assessments” (44.3% Agree/Strongly Agree). Additional results and future directions will be discussed.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh