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 #345
Response Class Hierarchies: Laboratory Models and Clinical Applications
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
007A (CC)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Tara M. Sheehan (Mailman Segal Institute)

A response class is a set of behaviors that each have different forms, but are maintained by the same or similar consequences (Catania, 2013). Although these behaviors have a common effect on the environment, the probability of their occurrence might not be equal (Baer, 1982). They commonly occur in a hierarchy that escalates from less severe to more severe. The implications of RCH's are vast, with behavioral interventions often relying on this information to dictate treatment. The current symposium includes three presentations that address various aspects of RCH's. First, Joelle Krantz, B.A., will discuss a basic laboratory model targeted to modify an existing response class, preventing problem behavior from persisting during lapses in treatment integrity. Adam Brewer, Ph.D., will then discuss an RCH computer simulation program, assessing response patterns during extinction, after functionally equivalence low-effort responses are no longer reinforced. Finally, Danielle Tarver, M.S., will discuss clinical applications and uses of RCH assessments in determining the functions of individuals behaviors and treatment.

Keyword(s): computer simulation, hierarchies, response class
Elimination of High Effort Responses from A Response Class Hierarchy
JOELLE KRANTZ (Nova Southeastern University), Tara M. Sheehan (Mailman Segal Institute), F. Charles Mace (Nova Southeastern University)
Abstract: A response class hierarchy (RCH) is a set of behaviors that have different forms, but are reinforced by similar consequences, with some responses being more probable than others. These behaviors commonly escalate from less severe to more severe. Interventions have been shown to reduce problem behaviors by removing reinforcement for the problem behavior and providing it contingent on an alternative response. However, it is a common phenomenon that after problem behaviors are eliminated, they are likely to re-emerge following lapses in treatment integrity. This suggests that the problem behavior continues to exist in the RCH, despite discontinuation of reinforcement. The present study used a laboratory model to separate the target response from the response class and prevent it from re-emerging during lapses in treatment integrity. Preschool-aged children participated in the study. Results showed preliminary support for the intervention, representing the first solution to date to prevent problem behaviors from persisting during lapses in treatment integrity.
A Computer Simulation: History Effects Following Extinction of a Novel Alternative Response within a Response Class
ADAM BREWER (Texas Tech University), David M. Richman (Texas Tech University), Layla Abby (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: A computer program was developed to simulate a response class hierarchy for three topographies that required increases effort to access monetary reinforcers. Undergraduates were instructed to click on different colors and distinct geometric shapes that required different number of mouse clicks to earn the same amount of money (i.e., one nickel was equivalent to a token earned after the schedule requirement was met). Using our computer simulation, we asked what response patterns are engendered during extinction after the functionally equivalent low-effort response is no longer reinforced? Two groups (n=4) of participants were exposed to different behavioral histories: (1) a response class that was placed on extinction before introducing a functionally equivalent low-effort response compared to (2) a response class that was not placed on extinction before introducing the functional alternative. First, we investigated potential predictors of the total number of responses during extinction of the functional alternative response. Mixed results were obtained related to primacy/recency, behavioral momentum, and partial reinforcement effects. A consistent group difference (see Figure) was that the group exposed to extinction prior to the introduction of a functional alternative exhibited shorter latencies to emit a novel response than the group that was not exposed to extinction.
Combined Functional Assessments in Assessment and Treatment of Behavior Disorders in Children with Autistic Disorders
DANIELLE TARVER (Nova Southeastern University), Joelle Krantz (Nova Southeastern University), Kristina Samour (Nova Southeastern University ), Tara M. Sheehan (Mailman Segal Institute), Stephanie Trauschke (Nova Southeastern University), F. Charles Mace (Nova Southeastern University)
Abstract: Functional behavioral assessment is widely accepted as the Best Practices approach to diagnosing the environmental basis for behavior disorders in children with developmental disabilities, having amassed over 30 years of empirical studies to support its efficacy (Hanley, Iwata & McCord, 2003). However, no one approach to functional analysis is without limitations. We will present the results from five clinical cases utilizing a 3-stage model that includes a functional interview, a parent-run A-B functional analysis, and an A-B-C therapist-run response class hierarchy analysis. The adoption of this multiple component functional model capitalizes on the internal validity of traditional A-B-C methods and may strengthen external validity through the addition of the functional interview and parent-run A-B analysis.



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