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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #146
CE Offered: BACB
Different Applications and Outcomes of Preference Assessments With College Students and Individuals Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, May 23, 2020
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 202B
Area: AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Faris Rashad Kronfli (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Faris Rashad Kronfli, Ph.D.

This symposium will include presentations on research related to the application and outcomes of various preference assessments. First, researchers will present a series of studies looking at choice among a series of outcomes. Specifically, researchers evaluated a) the likelihood that college students would exhibit a negative time preference (i.e., save the best for last) among hypothetical choices and b) the correspondence between preference outcomes when choices were hypothetical and real. Second, researchers will present a comparison of a) preference for conversation topics using vocal and multiple-stimulus-without-replacement preference assessments and b) how the results of these preference assessments correspond to reinforcer assessments among individuals diagnosed with ASD who have complex vocal-verbal repertoires. Third, researchers will present data evaluating if a) topographically similar, healthier foods can be used as substitutes for less healthy foods that are commonly used as reinforcers and b) determine if preference rank for the healthy alternatives predict this substitution among individuals diagnosed with ASD. Implications for interventions and future research will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism, college students, preference assessment
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Students in undergraduate or graduate behavior analysis programs, Registered Behavior Technicians

When Do We Save the Best for Last? Outcome Category as Predictor of Time Preference in Sequences
(Basic Research)
MARIANA I. CASTILLO (UMBC), Shuyan Sun (UMBC), Michelle A. Frank-Crawford (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute), John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Abstract: Generally, immediate outcomes are preferred to delayed outcomes, and in economics, this is referred to as positive time preference. If positive preference is normative, when asked to schedule a set of outcomes, people should typically prefer to start with the best outcome, and end with the worst. Several studies have shown that when a choice is among a sequence of outcomes, people typically exhibit negative time preference (i.e., saving the best for last - STBFL). We conducted a series of studies looking at predictors of time preference in sequences. In Study 1 we surveyed 192 college students about their preference for the order in which they would experience hypothetical outcomes with sequences of categorically-different outcomes (e.g., noxious stimuli, food, exercise, school work, leisure). A significantly smaller percentage of participants STBFL relative to prior studies, but the percentage was highest when sequences involved noxious stimuli or food. In Study 2 we examined the correspondence between 8 college students’ preference for the order in which they would experience sequences of categorically-different outcomes when those were hypothetical versus real. Participants were most likely to STBFL with noxious stimuli when those were real, and least likely to STBFL when scheduling real or hypothetical exercises.

Identifying Preference for and Reinforcing Efficacy of Conversation Topics Among Individuals Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Applied Research)
FARIS RASHAD KRONFLI (University of Florida), Samuel L. Morris (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)

Failure to consider preferred conversation topics when working with individuals who have complex vocal-verbal behavior might create aversive learning contexts when teaching social skills. For example, an individual learning to join a conversation might be less inclined to participate if the topic chosen is not preferred. However, commonly used preference assessment procedures might not be appropriate given the functioning level of the individual. Therefore, the purpose of the current experiment was to replicate and extend previous research by comparing preference for conversation topics using a self-report measure, a multiple-stimulus-without-replacement (MSWO) preference assessment, and a reinforcer assessment. High levels of correspondence between self-report, MSWO, and reinforcer assessment hierarchies were observed with four out of six subjects, whereas only the self-report or MSWO hierarchy had a high degree of correspondence with the reinforcer assessment hierarchy for the other two out of six subjects. Implications for interventions when teaching complex social skills and directions for future research are discussed.


Substitutability of Healthier Alternatives for Edible Reinforcers in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Applied Research)
SARAH CATHERINE WEINSZTOK (University of Florida), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (University of Florida), Kissel Joseph Goldman (University of Florida)

Pediatric nutrition and weight status was listed as a primary focus of the Healthy People 2020 report. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be especially vulnerable to nutritional deficits; these individuals may exhibit selective or restrictive eating habits and might often receive edible reinforcers within the context of early intervention services. Selective eating repertoires can lead to overweight, obesity and/or nutritional deficits. One way to combat overweight and obesity through nutrition is to replace unhealthy foods with healthier substitutes. Therefore, the purposes of this study were: (1) to determine if topographically similar, but healthier, alternatives would substitute for less healthy foods commonly used as reinforcers, and (2) determine if preference rank for the alternatives predicts this substitution. Preferred foods and healthier alternatives were first ranked through paired-stimulus preference assessments. The most highly preferred snack food was then examined in a concurrent progressive-ratio assessment against both its formally similar alternative, and the most highly preferred alternative foods. The purpose of this assessment was to determine which, if any, healthier alternatives functioned as substitutes for the preferred snack foods. Alternatives were considered substitutes if responding shifted towards the healthier alternative as the behavioral cost to access the preferred food increased. Results show that some healthier, formally similar, alternatives readily substitute for highly preferred foods. Implications for interventions to increase nutritional status among individuals with autism are discussed.




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