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 #315
CE Offered: BACB
Practice, Principles, and Progressive Contingencies
Monday, May 25, 2015
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
006C (CC)
Area: EAB/PRA; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Peter R. Killeen (Arizona State University)
CE Instructor: Kennon Andy Lattal, Ph.D.
Abstract: Progressive contingencies of reinforcement involve successively increasing response and/or temporal requirements for reinforcement. As in symposia on, respectively, reducing reinforcement availability and delay discounting, arranged by Drs. Call and Lattal during two the past two ABAI conferences, this symposium brings together both basic and applied researchers to explore dimensions of the theoretical and applied significance of progressive reinforcement contingencies. Such contingencies are important in both arenas not only because of their utility as tests of the relative efficacy of different reinforcers and circumstances of reinforcement, but also because of what they reveal of how organisms adjust to gradually but consistently changing conditions. One of the papers (Kincaid & Lattal) examines reestablishing responding once it has reached the point where a session normally is terminated (the breakpoint). The others consider progressive ratio contingencies in the context of reinforcer discounting in organizational (Henley et al.), clinical (Call et al.), and laboratory (Jarmolowicz et al.) contexts.
Keyword(s): basic-applied integration, progressive contingencies
Beyond the Break Point: Recurrence of Responding under Progressive-Ratio Schedules
STEPHANIE L. KINCAID (West Virginia University), Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: If more and more responding is required to earn a reinforcer, as in progressive ratio schedules, behavior eventually becomes “strained,” characterized by long pauses and irregular response patterns. If the response requirement continues to escalate, behavior reaches a “break point” and ultimately ceases altogether for a period of time. The present experiments investigated whether responding can be regenerated after the break point has been reached, using techniques that are known to produce recurrence of behavior that was eliminated by extinction. Pigeons responded on progressive ratio schedules until stable performance was observed. Then, test sessions were conducted in which a recurrence procedure (reinstatement, resurgence, or renewal) was applied after the break point had been reached. Control sessions were also conducted in which no recurrence procedure was applied but the session was simply extended. Recurrence procedures were assessed in terms of amount of responding regenerated by the procedure, and latency to the first response following the break point. Implications of the findings for understanding recurrence procedures and the dynamics of ratio-strained behavior are discussed.
On the Efficacy of delayed and probabilistic reinforcers: A concurrent progressive ratio analysis
ALEXANDRIA DARDEN (University of Kansas), David P. Jarmolowicz (The University of Kansas), Jennifer L. Hudnall (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: Immediate reinforcers have greater subjective value than delayed reinforcers and certain reinforcers have greater subjective value than probabilistic reinforcers. These findings, widely explored in the literatures on delay and probability discounting, have had wide implications for clinical populations (e.g., addicted individuals, the obese, and problem gamblers). The causal mechanisms behind these behavioral patterns, however, remain unclear. The first study examines the reinforcer efficacy of delayed rewards using concurrent progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement. One lever consistently resulted in immediate reinforcement whereas the other lever resulted in reinforcement that after a delay that varied across conditions (0-s to 81-s). . The second study evaluated the efficacy of reinforcer probabilistic reinforcers under a similar arrangement with probabilities which ranged from 100% to 12.5% likelihood of reinforcement. Our general findings demonstrate reinforcer efficacy systematically declined for more probable and delayed rewards.
A Crowdsourced Experiential Procedure for Generating Breakpoints of Worker Responding
AMY J. HENLEY (The University of Kansas), Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas), Brent Kaplan (The University of Kansas), Derek D. Reed (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: Behavioral economics is an approach to understanding decision-making and behavior using principles of behavioral science and economics (Hursh, 1980). It allows researchers to examine persistence of behavior in the face of increasing cost (i.e., demand). Experimental preparations with humans commonly adopt hypothetical purchase tasks to assess demand, but recent technological advancements offer alternatives that increase the feasibility of experiential methods. The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of an experiential method using crowdsourcing to assess worker responding in the face of increasing response requirements. Participants included experienced workers of Amazon Mechanical Turk who completed a task of progressively increasing ratios to earn a specified bonus. The work task required participants to slide a visual analog scale to match a random target number between -100 and 100. Sixty participants have completed the study to date. The rate at which participants discontinued responding was well explained by the exponential model of demand (r2 = .96; Hursh & Silberberg, 2008). Data collection for additional participants is underway. These data can inform future studies that utilize crowdsourcing methods to evaluate schedules of reinforcement and worker responding.
Use of Progressive Ratio Schedules for the Assessment of Reinforcer Efficacy in Clinical Settings with Children with Autism and Related Disorders
NATHAN CALL (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Ally Coleman (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: The use of progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement as an assessment of reinforcer efficacy is well-established in experimental research. There are fewer but a growing number of studies demonstrating the use of PR schedules in applied contexts. Most of these studies have involved identifying stimuli that will function as reinforcers for adaptive behaviors or for use in treatments for destructive behavior (e.g., Roane, Lerman, & Vorndran, 2001). This study will present a series of datasets in which PR schedules have been used to address issues of relevance in clinical populations. These will include results of a study that used PR schedules to compare the relative reinforcing efficacy of social attention and leisure items in 8 children with autism spectrum disorder and 9 typically developing peers. Participants in the ASD group exhibited higher breakpoints and Omax for leisure items than for attention, whereas children in the typically developing group exhibited the opposite pattern. Results will be discussed in terms of the contributions of PR methods for research with clinical populations.



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