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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #116
CE Offered: BACB
The Evaluation of Novel Procedures to Establish Equivalence Classes With Typical Adults
Saturday, May 25, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105 AB
Area: VRB/EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Russell W. Maguire (Simmons University)
Discussant: Ron F. Allen (Simmons University)
CE Instructor: Ron F. Allen, Ph.D.

The purpose of this symposium was to evaluate two new procedural applications to teach conditional discriminations and form equivalence classes with adult participants. The current methods to establish new conditioned reinforcers may be unreliable and the typical approach to establishing equivalence classes, matching-to-sample training and testing, can be labor intensive and time consuming. The first presentation, entitled “Transfer of Reinforcing Function Facilitated by Differential vs. Common Outcomes” sought to establish new conditional reinforcers via equivalence class formation and differential outcomes. The results indicated that stimuli from an equivalence class containing other, reinforcing stimuli, acquired reinforcing properties and was effective as a reinforcer to establish new classes. The second presentation, entitled “Establishing Equivalence Relations Utilizing a Sorting Procedure” used a stimulus sorting protocol to teach and test for the emergence of new conditional discriminations, indicative of equivalence class formation. The results indicated that teaching via a sorting protocol not only established new equivalence classes but did while substantially decreasing the teaching and testing trials necessary. The results of this symposium are discussed in terms of efficacy of instructional protocols used in more applied settings (e.g., classrooms, etc.).

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): conditional discrimination, conditioned reinforcement, sorting, stimulus equivalence
Target Audience:

Advanced. Participants should at least a working knowledge of stimulus equivalence and conditional discrimination training.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify the benefits and limitations of traditional stimulus equivalence research; (2 )identify the advantages of sorting as another method to assess the formation of stimulus classes; (3) explain the advantages of equivalence based instruction over more typical forms of instruction (e.g., differential reinforcement of correct response)

Transfer of Reinforcing Function Facilitated by Differential Versus Common Outcomes

(Basic Research)
COLLEEN YORLETS (Simmons University), Karen M. Lionello-DeNolf (Assumption University), Ron F. Allen (Simmons University), Russell W. Maguire (Simmons University)

Several primary methods for establishing new reinforcers have yielded varied results. Stimulus equivalence procedures, while not traditionally used for such purposes, may prove beneficial. In the present study, two groups (Condition A & B) of three adults completed a series of match-to-complex sample trainings. Condition A participants completed a match-to-complex sample training in which unique reinforcers were utilized for each stimulus class. Following initial training, participants completed an additional training in which stimuli that functioned as discriminative stimuli in the first training were tested for a reinforcing function. Tests for equivalence class formation were conducted via sorting tests. Procedures for Condition B participants were identical to those for Condition A participants except for the reinforcers used. For Condition B participants, across all trainings a common reinforcer was used across stimulus classes. Results for one participant demonstrated via a reinforcer assessment that three different tokens functioned as reinforcers prior to training. Preliminary training data collected suggested that the first match-to-sample training will be successfully completed with the use of unique reinforcers. It is expected that participants trained using differential outcomes will demonstrate greater accuracy across phases, compared to those trained using common outcomes.

Establishing Equivalence Relations Utilizing a Sorting Procedure
(Basic Research)
MEGAN BREAULT (Centria Autism), Russell W. Maguire (Simmons University)
Abstract: Match-to-sample, MTS, procedures are most often utilized in equivalence research when teaching conditional discriminations and then testing for the formation of equivalence classes. The labor intensiveness and excessive time requirements of MTS procedures in the training and testing of equivalence classes has led experimenters to investigate alternative methodologies. Thus, researchers have investigated other methods to lessen the time commitment and the number of training and test trials. Sorting has been utilized in recent equivalence research to demonstrate class consistent responding during testing but has rarely been utilized as a training protocol to establish the baseline conditional discriminations necessary for the subsequent emergence of equivalence relations. The current study evaluated the efficacy of utilizing a sorting protocol for training conditional discriminations and testing for equivalence relations and compared the results of MTS versus sorting tasks with 4 typically developing adults. The results are discussed in terms increasing the probability of using of equivalence class instruction in applied settings.



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