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 #307
CE Offered: BACB
Technology and Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 29, 2023
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom B
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Makenzie Heatherly (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Discussant: Zachary Harrison Morford (Texas Association for Behavior Analysis)
CE Instructor: Makenzie Heatherly, Ph.D.

This symposium will feature four presentations on the use of technology in behavior analytic research and practice. The first two presentations will focus on the use of virtual reality, specifically as it relates to learning and teacher acceptability and interventions for delay discounting. The final two presentations will focus on video game play, specifically as it relates to assessments of audience effects and reactions and stimulus control of response variability. A discussion of these presentations will follow.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): audience reaction, delay discounting, response variability, virtual reality
Target Audience:

The current symposium is an intermediate level discussion of the use of technology in applied behavior analysis. Participants should have familiarity with behavior analysis, common research designs in behavior-analytic research and practice, have a passing familiarity with gamification in research, and be interested in how technology can be added to evaluations of behavioral processes.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe how pre-service educator's view the acceptability and social validly of training in virtual environments, (2) identify current research related to virtual reality and episodic future thinking; (3) identify how audience reactions impact gaming performance; and (4) identify at least one variable that can impact stimulus control of variability in a video game
Evaluating Pre-Service Educator Acceptability for Learning in Virtual Settings
HAYLEE HELLER (University of Utah), Aaron J. Fischer (University of Utah)
Abstract: There is a dramatic shortage of special education teachers across grade levels, and attrition is extraordinarily high due to Stress and teacher burnout. This phenomenon emerges due to disruptive behavior in the classroom—many times behaviors educators are not trained or prepared to manage. To address training for educators around appropriate behavior management virtual training environments (VTEs) are well-suited to augment behavioral skills training that typically requires intensive human interaction. Before using VTEs to train teachers on how to manage disruptive behavior, educators could simulate high-stakes, stressful, potentially dangerous scenarios in a safe, highly controlled environment. VTEs thus afford socially valid rehearsal, and highly-precise personalized feedback. This study evaluated 50 educators acceptability for training in a VTE prior to, and after exposure to a virtual environment. Results from the Technology Acceptance Model Fast Form showed a significant increase in acceptability of training in VTEs, after exposure to the virtual environment. Considerations for simulation development are discussed

Episodic Future Thinking and Its Relationship to Immersion in Virtual Reality Environments

EMMA PRESTON (Dartmouth College), Sylvia Xueni Pan (Goldsmiths University of London), P. Raymond Joslyn (Utah State University), Milad Najafichaghabouri (Utah State University ), Sara Peck (USU; NECC; WNE)

Episodic future thinking (EFT) has been shown to be an effective way to reduce delay discounting, which is correlated to a number of maladaptive behaviors related to impulsive choice. EFT uses a narrative interview method that maps well onto factors related to immersion in virtual reality. Virtual reality has been used in psychological and neurocognitive interventions due to those immersive properties, however has yet to be used as a method of EFT delivery. Therefore, we ask if virtual reality will be an effective method of delivery of EFT, and if this reduction will have a relationship with individual levels of immersion in virtual reality reported. Using a pre-post measure of discounting, preliminary research suggests that individuals who experience EFT in a virtual reality setting see a reduction in delay discounting, however more research must be done to further understand the relationship between changes in discounting and reported levels of immersion.

Evaluation of Audience Presence and Reactions on Performance in a Virtual Gaming Environment
NATHAN WEBER (University of Alaska Anchorage), Makenzie Heatherly (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mychal Machado (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Abstract: Audience effects are described as any change in performance that results from the presence of one or more spectators, and these effects have been demonstrated many times in the sports literature. Although these data suggest the presence of an audience affects performance, audiences are generally not silent and the reactions from an audience might also impact performance. Few researchers have attempted to isolate the effects of audience reactions on performance. In response, this pilot project compared the effects of audience presence (presence v. absence) and audience reactions (cheers v. jeers v. silence) on gaming performance. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three virtual games created in Minecraft, and performance accuracy (Archery and Free Throw) and duration to successful completion (Walk-the-Line) were monitored. During baseline, participants completed the assigned game alone and there were no programmed consequences for accurate performance or successful completion. Next, participants completed the assigned game with a virtual audience present three times. Following accurate performance, the audience either did nothing (Silent) or provided positive (Cheer) or negative (Jeer) statements. Our findings indicate that previous results isolating audience reactions might be the product of practice effects across conditions rather than the differential effects of audience reaction types.

Discriminative Control of Variability in Video Game Play

JOSEPH D. DRACOBLY (University of North Texas), Gabriela Arias (University of North Texas), Madison Majeski-Gerken (University of North Texas), Scott Charles Robinson (University of North Texas)

Creativity can be a useful skill in today’s classrooms and workplaces. Behavioral variability, something different from the norm, may be an aspect of creativity. Much behavior analytic research on behavioral variability involves response sequences, a response form that could limit applicability of findings to the everyday environment. To address this, we replicated Page and Neuringer (1985, Experiment 6) by investigating stimulus control of variability in a video game. Participants played a 2D online video game made in Bloxels. Patterns of alternating colors served as the discriminative stimuli for the vary and repeat components. Three parameters of variability were measured (e.g., left jumps, right jumps, and double jumps). The results of the study indicate that participants were able to learn the discrimination of when to repeat and vary their responses depending on which colored platform they encountered. We will discuss practical implications of rapid stimulus control of non-sequence variability.




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