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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #342
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluating Preference for and Reinforcing Properties of Social Stimuli
Monday, May 29, 2023
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Catia Cividini-Motta Cividini (University of South Florida)
Discussant: Iser Guillermo DeLeon (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Catia Cividini-Motta Cividini, Ph.D.
Abstract: Social stimuli are often employed as consequences for correct and appropriate responding. However, commonly used preference and reinforcer assessment procedures usually require modification when evaluating preference for and the reinforcing properties of social stimuli. Furthermore, few studies have evaluated preference or the reinforcing properties of social stimuli (e.g., conversation topics) and the impact of social interaction on preference for other stimuli (e.g., leisure items). This symposium includes four studies evaluating preference and reinforcing properties of social stimuli. The first study compared outcomes of preference assessments completed using different stimulus modes (e.g., video or pictures) whereas the second study compared outcomes of different types of preference assessments. The third study in this symposium evaluated the impact of social interaction on preference for and the reinforcing properties of leisure items. Finally, the fourth presentation evaluated the reinforcing properties and preference for conversational attention.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): autism, preference, reinforcer, social stimuli
Target Audience: Basic/entry level
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Identify stimulus modes that can be employed to assess preference for social stimuli 2. Name and describe procedures of different types of preference assessments for social stimuli 3. Name and describe different reinforcer assessments for social stimuli
Preference for Social Stimuli: A Comparison of Stimulus Modes Used in Preference Assessments
SHANNON WILSON (University of South Florida), Rebecca Salinas (University of Texas San Antonio), Geninna Noelle Arriola Ferrer (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Hannah Lynn MacNaul (University of Texas at San Antonio), Catia Cividini-Motta Cividini (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Social stimuli are some of the most commonly used reinforcers in clinical programming (Graff & Karsten, 2012) and previous studies assessing preference for social stimuli have employed video stimuli (Wolfe et al., 2018), pictures of the social stimuli (Kelly et al., 2014), and pictures of arbitrary shapes (Morris & Vollmer, 2019). Previous studies have not evaluated the correspondence in preference for social stimuli across these three stimulus modes. Therefore, this study assessed correspondence in preference hierarchy across results of paired stimulus preference assessments (PSPAs) completed using each stimulus mode, whether preference corresponded with reinforcing properties, and whether preference was stable over repeated administration of the PSPAs. Four children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder participated in this study. Preference and reinforcer assessments were completed with each of the participants and the stability of preference was determined using a Spearman Rank correlation coefficient. Results indicated that for three participants preference was most stable over repeated administration of the PSPA completed using video stimuli and preference corresponded with reinforcing properties for a subset of stimuli.
A Continuum of Methods for Assessing Preference for Conversation Topics
FARIS R KRONFLI (University of Florida), Samuel L Morris (Louisiana State University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Among individuals with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), conversation topic preference could influence social skills in many ways. For example, an individual with advanced vocal-verbal skills, but just learning to join a conversation, might be less inclined to participate if the topic chosen is not preferred. However, commonly used preference assessment procedures have not been applied to evaluating conversation-topic preferences. Therefore, the purpose of the current experiment was conduct three different types of assessments that varied in efficiency, the degree of certainty they allow, and clients with whom they are likely to be applicable and acceptable. Specifically, we conducted a self-report preference assessment, a multiple-stimulus-without-replacement (MSWO) preference assessment, and a response restriction conversation assessment (RRCA). Each assessment identified a preferred topic of conversation, but the RRCA was the only assessment that was able to differentiate which topics would maintain a conversation. Implications for assessment and intervention procedures related to complex social skills are discussed and directions for future research are proposed.

Effects of Social Interaction on Leisure Item Preference and Reinforcer Efficacy in Children With Autism

MARISSA E. KAMLOWSKY (The University of Kansas), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Stacha Leslie (University of Kansas), KY Clifton KANAMAN (University of Kansas), Sara Camille Diaz de Villegas (University of Kansas)

Behavior analysts commonly rely on results of stimulus preference assessments (SPAs) to determine potent reinforcers for use in skill acquisition and problem behavior reduction programs for individuals with autism and related disabilities (Saini et al., 2021). Previous research has shown that outcomes of SPAs can be influenced by variables such as the inclusion of social interaction (Kanaman et al., 2022). In the current study, we replicated Kanaman et al. (2022) by comparing outcomes of Solitary (i.e., toys only), Social (i.e., toys plus social interaction), and Combined (i.e., toys alone and toys plus social interaction) SPAs with five children with autism. Results suggested that the inclusion of social interaction can influence preference for leisure items in children with autism. Specifically, some participants preferred particular items when presented with social interaction relative to the same item presented without social interaction (or vice versa). Additionally, the current study extended Kanaman et al. by determining the absolute reinforcing efficacy of low-preferred and high-preferred toys with and without social interaction using a single-operant reinforcer assessment with a progressive ratio analysis. Results suggested that SPAs reliably predicted outcomes of participants’ reinforcer assessments.

Assessment Evaluation to Identify Sensitivity to Conversational Attention as a Reinforcer and Conversational Skill Deficits
SYLVIA AQUINO (Marquette University ), Stephanie A. Hood (Marquette University ), Jesey Marie Gopez (Marquette University), Michelle Castillo (University of North Texas), Karen A. Toussaint (University of North Texas), Samantha Bergmann (University of North Texas )
Abstract: Assessments to identify if conversational attention functions as a reinforcer are often conducted in the absence of assessing for conversational skills or omitted altogether. We evaluated a screening tool to identify the need for skill acquisition and contingency management (e.g., Stocco et al. 2020; and Hood et al., 2017). We replicated the functional analysis of on-topic or restricted speech (Stocco et al., 2020) and evaluated relevant skills such as following conversation-partner-initiated conversations and whether participants were able to shift the conversation given cues of uninterest to evaluate potential skill deficits. We extended Stocco et al. (2020) by comparing participants' conversational responses when the conversation partner did and did not initiate topics of conversation and assessed participants' preferences for these arrangements. The participants were two college-aged individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Both participants' speech was sensitive to conversational attention. Jack was able to follow conversation-partner-initiated conversations. We identified skill deficits in shifting the conversation. Jack showed a preference for conversational arrangements in which both he and the conversation partner-initiated topics. We identified skill deficits in following and shifting for Ted. Ted showed a preference for conversations in which only he initiated topics. This screening tool helped to inform intervention.



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