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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #159
CE Offered: BACB
Translational Investigations with Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 24, 2015
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
214C (CC)
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Megan A. Boyle (Missouri State University)
Discussant: Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin)
CE Instructor: Megan A. Boyle, M.S.
Abstract: Translational research involves "bridging the gap" between research and practice. It is now recognized as an area from which the field of behavior analysis would benefit with respect to theory as well as issues of social significance. This symposium includes four studies at different points along the basic-to-applied continuum. Each study incorporated methods, concepts and/or findings from basic literature to inform their investigations with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Two studies used arbitrary responses only, one study used both arbitrary and socially-significant responses, and one study used socially-significant responses only. The findings from these studies have conceptual relevance to the indirect effects of reinforcement (behavioral contrast), reinforcer value (progressive ratio), relative effects of different reinforcer parameters, and response-class hierarchies, respectively. In addition, the findings from these studies have applied implications for the treatment of problem behavior, skill acquisition, and communication. The importance of translational research will be highlighted throughout.
Keyword(s): Human operant, Reinforcer assessment, Translational research
A Human-Operant Investigation of Behavioral Contrast
MEGAN A. BOYLE (Missouri State University), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida), Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University), Audrey N. Hoffmann (Utah State University), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Behavioral contrast occurs when a change in the reinforcement conditions in one context causes a change in behavior in the opposite direction in a second context. The exact prevalence of behavioral contrast in applied situations is unknown, but such effects have implications for the treatment of problem behavior. When behavior worsens in non-treatment contexts, caregivers may attribute such worsening directly to treatment, resulting in a withdrawal from behavior-analytic services. Results of non-human investigations suggest that different contexts may be more susceptible to contrast than others, and that contrast may be more likely to occur at certain points in time within a context. However, no studies have examined these effects with humans. This study investigated behavioral contrast with three adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a human-operant arrangement. Results showed that contrast was generally larger in the context that was followed by a change in reinforcement conditions than in the context that was preceded by a change in reinforcement conditions, however this was not the case will all subjects or in all conditions. Theoretical and applied implications will be discussed.
The Effects of Item Type and Duration of Access on Preference and Reinforcer Efficacy
AUDREY N. HOFFMANN (Utah State University), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida), Megan A. Boyle (Missouri State University), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Reinforcer magnitude and stimulus type are dimensions of reinforcement that influence behavior. Although basic and applied studies have examined their effects separately, few have examined their interaction. One category of stimuli has received little attention: high-tech stimuli. This study examined the interactions of stimulus type (high- vs. no-tech) and reinforcer magnitude (i.e. duration of access) on preference and reinforcer efficacy. Participants included four adults with disabilities. Two preference assessments were conducted to identify highly preferred high- and no-tech items for each participant. A second preference assessment then examined preference for those items when provided at different durations. We then evaluated reinforcer efficacy for those items when provided for a range of durations using progressive ratio (PR) schedules. Results suggested an interaction between stimulus type and duration of access: participants preferred high-tech items at longer durations of access and engaged in more responding when the high-tech item was provided for long durations and the no-tech item was provided for short durations. Conversely, participants engaged in less responding when the high-tech item was provided for short durations and when the no-tech item was provided for long durations. Results showed that reinforcer magnitude and item type interact to influence preference and reinforcer efficacy.
Manipulating Parameters of Reinforcement to Reduce Problem Behavior without Extinction
S. SHANUN KUNNAVATANA (University of Texas San Antonio), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida), Timothy A. Slocum (Utah State University), Casey Clay (Utah State University)
Abstract: Many function-based interventions, such as differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA), rely on extinction procedure, which may not always be feasible and can be counter-therapeutic if implemented without optimal treatment integrity. Researchers have successfully implemented DRA without extinction by manipulating various parameters of reinforcement (rate, quality, magnitude, and immediacy) to favor alternative behavior. Parameter sensitivity has been found to be idiosyncratic, and therefore warrants individual assessment. Researchers have assessed individual sensitivities to parameters of reinforcement in the context of problem behavior, resulting in problem behavior during assessment. The purpose of this study was to use arbitrary responses to assess individual sensitivities to quality, magnitude, and immediacy of reinforcement maintaining problem behavior and use the results to implement an intervention for problem behavior without extinction. The results indicate that arbitrary responses may be used to identify individual sensitivities to parameters of reinforcement that maintains problem behavior. Additionally, interventions were more effective when parameters for which the participants were most sensitive were manipulated than when parameters for which the participants were least sensitive were manipulated.

Using Serial Functional Communication Training to Teach Appropriate Responses to Bullying: A Preliminary Investigation

SYLVIA BARROWS (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Anne Doyle (Vanderbilt University), Nealetta Houchins-Juarez (Vanderbilt University)

Little research exists validating effective strategies for teaching responses to bullying. When victims respond with aggression, they are at risk of punitive sanctions. Thus, we propose a non-violent strategy consisting of a progressive chain of conditional responses. For example, when bullied, the victim asks the bully to change her behavior. If ineffective, the victim recruits help from an adult. Finally, if bullying persists, the victim leaves the situation. However, bringing this specific sequence of behavior under control of relevant establishing operations (and prior to aggression) may be challenging as previous research suggests that response- class hierarchies can be influenced by a variety of factors (e.g., history, effort, discriminative stimuli, etc.). Notwithstanding, recent translational research has shown that it is possible to establish hierarchies through serial instructional sequencing. Specifically, it is possible to program a sequence of behavior when response-class members contact extinction by teaching and reinforcing component responses in the reverse order in which they should resurge (i.e., reversion). However, this effect has not consistently been replicated when applied to the treatment of problem behavior. Thus, we implemented a modification of serial Functional Communication Training to address a childs aggression evoked by bullying. Results, limitations, and potential implications are discussed.




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