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 #337
CE Offered: BACB
Is Choosing Reinforcing? Examining Choice Responding Under Varied Assessment Conditions
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
217B (CC)
Area: AUT/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Erin Conant (Evergreen Center)
CE Instructor: Mark P. Groskreutz, Ph.D.
Abstract: Reinforcing effects are expected to vary based on the interplay of several variables, such as schedule, immediacy, and magnitude of reinforcement. Previous researchers have examined choice as a variable impacting reinforcement effects, when all else is held constant. For individuals with disabilities, where identifying reinforcers can be challenging, using choice may be particularly important when trying to maximize reinforcing effects when reinforcers may be limited. However, research on choice has been challenging, because of the necessary to keep choice and no-choice conditions equivalent. Previous researchers have used a variety of methods to control for choice and no-choice conditions with varying results. The studies reviewed in this symposium present further examinations of choice as a potential reinforcer considering single and concurrent operants arrangements and fixed and progressive ratio, as well as progressive magnitude assessments of reinforcement effects. Additionally, the current symposia include primary and “conditioned” reinforcers as part of the examination of choice as a reinforcer.
Keyword(s): Choice, Progressive-ratio, Reinforcer assessment
A review of research on reinforcement effects of choice and choosing with individual's with disabilities
NICOLE C GROSKREUTZ (University of Saint Joseph), Mark P. Groskreutz (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: Basic and applied research on choice has examined many variables and conceptualizations, from mathematical models of behavior under choice conditions (e.g., the matching law) to the impact of choosing between demand activities on levels of escape maintained behavior. The current review specifically examines research evaluating the reinforcing effects of choosing among available consequences (i.e., the opportunity to select a reinforcer versus being given the same reinforcer in the absence of choosing) with individuals with disabilities. The review includes an overview of common research arrangements for comparing choice and no-choice conditions and a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of various control techniques. Results of previous research on choice will be discussed along various parameters to identify consistent findings and potential variables impacting results. Parameters to be discussed will include participant populations, categories of consequences, reinforcer assessment arrangements, and strength of conclusions. Finally, a series of recommendations will be discussed to help set the occasion for continued productivity in choice research in applied settings.
Using Single and Concurrent Operants Assessments to Examine Choice as a Reinforcer
WENDY WELLER (Evergreen Center), Mark P. Groskreutz (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: Individuals may be more motivated to learn new skills or perform already acquired skills when they may choose from several available consequences. However, research on choice is challenging, because it necessitates arranging choice and no-choice conditions, such that in the no-choice condition, the participant is given what they would have chosen if given the option. Previous research has suggested some participants prefer choice whereas other participants do not prefer choice. In the current presentation, participants with an autism spectrum disorder experienced several brief MSWO preference assessments to identify stable preferences. The preference assessments were followed by reinforcer assessments to examine responding under choice and no-choice conditions. Choice and no-choice conditions were designed and compared using a novel arrangement, to reduce confounds associated with yoking or other control procedures. Participants experienced conditions using both single and concurrent operant arrangements. Results suggest different patterns of responding across participants with some participant preferring choice and other participants showing no differential responding under the arranged conditions.
Evaluating Choice as a Reinforcer under Progressive Ratio and Progressive Magnitude Reinforcement Conditions
MARK P. GROSKREUTZ (Evergreen Center), Wendy Weller (Evergreen Center)
Abstract: Some individuals may respond better (e.g., higher rate or with greater accuracy) when given the option to choose among consequences following a response. Previous research on choice has found different results, with some individuals preferring choice, some preferring no-choice, and some showing no difference in responding. However, the reasons for these different findings are currently unclear. The differences in results may be due to the experimental arrangements and/or the specific form of reinforcer assessment. The current research uses additional reinforcer assessment paradigms to examine the responding under choice and no-choice conditions with several individuals with autism spectrum disorders, including progressive-ratio and progressive-magnitude comparisons. The results suggest choice, as compared to no-choice, may be highly-preferred by at least some individuals with mild to moderate disabilities (e.g., individuals with autism spectrum disorders and extensive verbal repertoires). Results are considered from a practical perspective and are discussed in relation to behavioral economic models of behavior.



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