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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #420
Examinations of Complex Human Behavior
Monday, May 27, 2019
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom CD North
Area: VRB/PCH; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sandhya Rajagopal (Florida Institute of Technology)
Discussant: Alison M. Betz (Behavior Services of the Rockies)
Abstract: This symposium will address several areas related to complex human behavior: private events, self-control, instructive feedback and chaining. Specifically, the first study evaluated a method of teaching children with autism to tact sensations, and following mastery, assessed for generalization to novel body parts, novel stimulating objects, and novel sensations. Second, previous research on self-control has found that accessing alternative activities (e.g., toy play) during delays may facilitate self-control responding. The purpose of the second study was to evaluate how pre- and post-exposure to an alternative activity affects choice between a smaller immediate reward or a delayed larger reward. The third study examined the effects of a mediation-blocking task on acquisition of instructive feedback targets. A vocal task, a motor task, or no task was presented following instructive feedback, and findings showed that the vocal task had little effect on participants' ability to acquire the instructive feedback statements. The final presenter will summarize a quantitative literature review on chaining.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): chaining, instructive feedback, private events, self-control

An Evaluation of a Procedure to Teach Children With Autism to Tact Sensations

(Applied Research)
SANDHYA RAJAGOPAL (Florida Institute of Technology), Katie Nicholson (Florida Institute of Technology), Joshua Addington (Florida Institute of Technology), Ashley Felde (Florida Institute of Technology), Tiara Rahadian Putri (Florida Institute of Technology), Michael Passage (Florida Institute of Technology), Elise Haury (Florida Institute of Technology), Yaara Shaham (Florida Institute of Technology)

Children with autism may be unable to communicate sensations such as pain to caregivers and other individuals. Inability to describe pain may have serious implications for quality of life, family interactions, and medical care. Since parent report is not a sufficient indicator of pain in children with developmental delays, it is imperative that they learn to describe sensations such as pain. A behavior analytic view suggests that children can learn to tact private events when a publicly observable event occurs simultaneously. The present study evaluated a proposed method of teaching children with autism to express stimulation of specific body parts by various objects. In a multiple baseline design across participants, each participant experienced a baseline phase, followed by an intervention phase in which tacts of stimulation to three body parts were taught, and the evaluation concluded with tests of generalization to three novel body parts. Thus far, two participants have completed the study and acquired the tacts of sensations, and a third participant has completed pre-experimental probes. The first participant successfully generalized sensation tacts to two of three body parts, and to novel objects for two of three sensations. He did not demonstrate generalization to novel sensations. This study provides a foundation for research investigating teaching children with autism to tact sensations such as pain.

The Effects of Establishing Operations on Alternative Activities During Self-Control Training
(Applied Research)
MICHAEL PASSAGE (Florida Institute of Technology), Katie Nicholson (Florida Institute of Technology), Adam Thornton Brewer (Florida Institute of Technology), Dana M. Gadaire (Florida Institute of Technology), Virginia Richards (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Previous research on self-control has found that accessing activities during delays may facilitate self-control responding. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate how pre-and post-exposure to an alternative activity (e.g., toy play) affects choice between a smaller immediate reward or a delayed larger reward. Participants in the study were (a) age 3 -14 years old, and (b) able to distinguish between smaller and larger rewards. In addition, all participants discounted delayed reinforcement when presented with a choice between a smaller immediate reward and a larger delayed reward. During Experiment 1, participants were exposed to three conditions in a multielement design to examine the effects of accessing an alternative activity prior to choosing between a larger delayed reward, a smaller immediate reward, and control option in which no rewards were delivered. During Experiment 2, sessions were similar to conditions during Experiment 1 except access to alternative activity is contingent upon self-control responding. Results in both experiments were evaluated using an adapted multielement treatment design embedded with a nonconcurrent multiple baseline across participants design.

The Effect of a Mediation-Blocking Task on the Acquisition of Instructive Feedback Targets

(Applied Research)
Katie Nicholson (Florida Institute of Technology), Amelia Dressel (Florida Institute of Technology), Kristin M. Albert (Florida Institute of Technology), VICTORIA RYAN (Florida Institute of Technology ), Basak Topcuoglu (Florida Institute of Technology), Tiara Rahadian Putri (Florida Institute of Technology)

Including instructive feedback (IF) targets in discrete trial training (DTT) has been shown to increase the efficiency of DTT. Students may self-echo the feedback, which mediates later responding. The present study sought to understand the role of self-echoics in the acquisition of IF by including three conditions: a typical IF procedure, a vocal mediation-blocking procedure (participants engaged in a competing vocal response after the IF was presented), and a motor-distraction procedure, (participants engaged in a motor response after the IF was presented). Inclusion of the vocal mediation-blocking task had little effect on the participants’ ability to learn the IF statements.


The Many Meanings of “Chaining”: A New Terminological Taxonomy Proposed From a Quantitative Literature Review

KRISTIN M. ALBERT (Florida Institute of Technology), Katie Nicholson (Florida Institute of Technology), Elbert Blakely (Quest, Inc.)

Behavior chains are often named as singular response units, such as tooth brushing or hand washing. However, these skills are actually complex sequences comprised of many individual responses (i.e., component steps) that, when performed in a specific order, result in the completion of a complex, composite skill. Behavior chains are often taught using chaining, with the most widely used chaining procedures commonly called forward chaining, backward chaining, and total task presentation. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight selected findings from a comprehensive literature review of the applied research on chaining from 2007 - 2017. This review was warranted given 1) that a such a broad review of chaining does not appear to have yet been conducted, 2) the last review of any kind on chaining is over 10 years old, and 3) chaining procedures are still widely used by applied behavior analysts. In addition to reviewing interesting findings from the quantitative literature review, this presentation will also include a proposal for restructuring the terminological taxonomy to be more technological and conceptually systematic. Recommendations for clinical practitioner and suggestions for future research will also be included.




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