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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #405
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Discriminative Processes in the Differential Reinforcement of Stereotyped and Varied Response Forms

Monday, May 29, 2017
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom D
Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Robert C. Mellon, Ph.D.
Chair: Federico Sanabria (Arizona State University)
ROBERT C. MELLON (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences)
Robert C. Mellon, Ph.D., BCBA, is professor of the Department of Psychology at the Panteion University in Athens, where he established a seven-semester undergraduate course of studies in behavioral philosophy and science, and directs the Laboratory of Experimental and Applied Behavior Analysis. He trained in the Brownstein-Shull laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he completed both the clinical psychology and experimental analysis of behavior programs. He was a clinical psychology intern at New York University-Bellevue, and served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the State University of New York at Binghamton and then at the New York State Psychiatric Institute-Columbia University. Mellon travelled with the Overseas Programs of the University of Maryland, then dropped anchor in the Hellenic Republic, where he has worked for two decades and authored Hellenic-language behavior-analytic textbooks. His empirical and theoretical work, principally in behavioral variability, resistance to change and aversive control, and the implications of these processes in understanding the provenance and treatment of problematic patterns of behavior, has been published in both behavior-analytic and mainstream psychology journals. Mellon serves as past president of the European Association for Behaviour Analysis and as founding president of the Hellenic Community for Behavior Analysis.

In instructional texts, response differentiation and stimulus discrimination procedures are usually treated separately, but shaping inherently establishes discriminative control by proprioceptive and other stimuli automatically and differentially produced in the emission of effective and ineffective response forms; antecedent control by response-produced stimuli inheres in shaping. In many cases, effective shaping might not require a specification of the discrimination of response-produced stimuli generated under differential reinforcement; other problems might demand a more fine-grained analysis. One such problem might be that of altering the variability/stereotypy of a response form, in which differential reinforcement may be viewed as establishing the discriminative and conditional reinforcing potency of the stimuli produced in the inchoate emission of acts that are either similar to, or different from, those recently emitted. When control by such stimuli is weak, procedures specifically designed to enhance the SD and S? functions of stimuli produced by repetitive and non-repetitive acts might be of substantial utility. Recent experiments indicate that the differential reinforcement of repetition or non-repetition indeed generates discriminations of the criterion-defining dimensions of response-produced stimuli of effective and ineffective acts, not undifferentiated novelty, and that interventions designed to alter stereotypy/variability might be rendered more effective by the facilitation of such self-discrimination.

Target Audience:

Researchers in basic behavioral processes, professional applied behavior analysts, advanced students

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify how response differentiation procedures inevitably generate discriminations of stimuli automatically generated in the emission of effective and ineffective response forms; (2) Identify how the differential reinforcement of variability or stereotypy might establish the discriminative (SD and S') and conditionally-reinforcing function of stimuli automatically produced in the repetition and non-repetition of previously-emitted response forms; (3) Describe and critically analyze the extant data base for the view that lag (differential reinforcement of variability) schedules generate discriminations of the specific dimensions of response-produced stimuli of effective and ineffective acts; (4) Identify two techniques for facilitating the establishment of discriminative control by the stimuli automatically produced in the emission of repeated or unrepeated acts.



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