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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #330
CE Offered: BACB
The Legacy of Joe Lalli and Current Research in Applied Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 28, 2012
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
LL05 (TCC)
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Henry S. Roane (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University)
Discussant: F. Charles Mace (Nova Southeastern University)
CE Instructor: Henry S. Roane, Ph.D.

Joe Lalli (1952-2001) was a productive researcher in the areas of applied behavior analysis and developmental disabilities. His work led to the development of many procedures that have become common practice in the field. Examples of his work include his research on behavioral momentum, competition between positive and negative reinforcement contingencies, descriptive assessment, response class hierarchy analyses and noncontingent reinforcement, among others. This symposium will focus on Dr. Lallis lasting impact on the field of applied behavior analysis. The first presentation describes an extension of Dr. Lallis method for evaluating response class hierarchies during the treatment of destructive behavior. The second presentation will describe Dr. Lallis development of activity schedules and the application of this procedure to decrease problem behavior in a clinic setting. The third presentation will focus on Dr. Lallis work examining competition between positive and negative reinforcement contingencies and the use of positive reinforcement as an abolishing operation for escape-maintained behavior. Professor F. Charles Mace, Joes former advisor, colleague, and long-time friend will serve as discussant and will provide a synthesis of these studies relative to Dr. Lallis contributions to the field of applied behavior analysis.


Modifications of Response Class Hierarchies Through Differential Reinforcement of Extinction-Induced and Signaled Mands

HENRY S. ROANE (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University), Heather Kadey (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University), Niamh Doyle (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University), Christie McCarthy (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University)

The term response class refers to a set of response topographies (e.g., self-injury, aggression) maintained by the same reinforcer (e.g., attention). Some topographies may occur more frequently than others, and their relative probabilities are influenced by variables such as response effort and rate and immediacy of reinforcement. Lalli et al. (1995) developed an approach to assess hierarchical relations between members of a response class (i.e., lower probability responses occurring primarily when higher probability responses are extinguished). Treatment in such cases often involves differential reinforcement of an alternative response combined with extinction of destructive behavior. In the current investigation, functional analysis methods were used to demonstrate that the various topographies of destructive behavior formed response classes for two participants. Following the procedures developed by Lalli et al., we then determined that the topographies of destructive behavior occurred in a hierarchical manner. In addition, when topographies of destructive behavior were placed on extinction, we observed the emergence of previously undetected prosocial responses which were then subjected to differential reinforcement in order to maintain decreases in destructive behavior. These findings will be discussed in terms of the extensions to the response class hierarchy identification procedures developed by Lalli and colleagues.

Clinical Extensions of Dr. Lalli's Research
JOEL RINGDAHL (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Dr. Lalli’s research encompassed a broad array of antecedent- and reinforcement-based strategies to effectively reduce severe problem behavior exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities. One example of these strategies is the inclusion of predictable routines (e.g., activity schedules) as a component in the treatment of escape-maintained problem behavior (Lalli, Casey, Goh, &Merlino, 1994). In that particular study, Dr. Lalli and his colleagues evaluated the efficacy of printed vs. photographic pictures when included in treatment. In a clinical extension of this study, we evaluated a separate dimension of activity schedules (work requirement) while maintaining the same type of activity cues (line drawings) in place. Results from our study indicated that the type work requirement (time based or product based) differentially affected behavior, even though the type of work requirement did not affect the amount of work completed. Results are discussed in relationship to the variables that can impact a commonly used antecedent-based strategy to address escape-maintained problem behavior (i.e., the use of activity schedules). Other clinical applications of Dr. Lalli’s work will also be discussed.

Evaluating and Integrating Positive Reinforcers Into Assessments and Treatments for Destructive Behavior Reinforced by Escape Among Children With Autism

MICHAEL E. KELLEY (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Joanna Lomas (Louisiana State University)

Prior investigations have shown that a promising approach to the treatment of destructive behavior maintained by negative reinforcement involves the delivery empirically derived, positive reinforcers contingent on appropriate, alternative responses, such as communication or compliance (Lomas, Fisher, & Kelley, in press). This approach is especially useful for situations in which extinction of destructive behavior is impractical (e.g., tasks requiring vocal responses that cannot be physically guided) or the target response is potentially dangerous (e.g., increases in severe SIB due to extinction bursts). In the current presentation, we will discuss data from a series of investigations illustrating the role of positive reinforcement in establishing and abolishing the effectiveness of escape as reinforcement for destructive behavior during assessment and treatment. We will show that in some cases, the termination of ongoing positive reinforcers at the start of an instructional session can establish escape as effective reinforcement for destructive behavior. We will also show that in some cases destructive behavior reinforced by escape decreases with the introduction of positive reinforcement because the participant prefers the positive reinforcer over the negative reinforcer. Finally, we will show that in other cases the positive reinforcer functions as an abolishing operation (AO) that lessens the aversiveness of the demands, thus reducing destructive behavior. Results will be discussed in terms of the effects of positive reinforcement on escape-reinforced problem behavior.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh