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

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Symposium #202
CE Offered: BACB
Application of Behavior Economic Procedures for Assessing and Treatment Problem Behavior
Sunday, May 27, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
LL04 (TCC)
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Discussant: John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
CE Instructor: John C. Borrero, Ph.D.

Behavior economics is a term that describes the applications of economic principles to behavior, typically in the context of problems of social significance. Applying economic principles to behavior has resulted in the development of several assessment techniques and treatments that are useful to researchers and practitioners. In the current series of studies, we show the utility of applying economic principles to problems of social significance. In the first study, Doyle et al. show that the identification and modification of a complementary relationship can reduce levels of problem behavior. Next, DeRosa et al. demonstrate the relationship between motivation operations and response rate/break points during progressive-ratio schedule manipulations. Finally, Nadler and Kelley report on the efficacy of a progressive differential reinforcement of other behavior (PDRO) schedule for identifying a terminal reinforcement schedule for individual stimuli. In combination, the studies extend the literature on the application of economic principles to problems of social significance and provide guidance to researchers and practitioners for further assessment and treatment development.

Keyword(s): Behavior economics, Progressive schedules

Identification and Modification of Complementary Response Relations

NIAMH DOYLE (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University), Heather Kadey (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University), Henry S. Roane (State University of New York, Upstate Medical University)

Destructive behavior, such as self-injury and aggression, are common among children with developmental disabilities. In many cases, destructive behavior has been shown to be maintained by contingent access to socially mediated stimuli such as preferred toys. In some cases, however, the presence of or engagement with preferred stimuli might occasion destructive behavior. Such a relationship might be best examined through the application of behavior economic principles. According to economic theory an individual's consumption may be influenced by the interaction between different commodities. The interaction may be complementary, substitutable or independent. Complementary reinforcers are those that are consumed in tandem, with higher rates of consumption of 1 commodity correlating with higher rates of consumption of the other. In this study we present 2 examples of a complementary relationship between levels of activity engagement and destructive behavior. For 1 subject the positive correlation was identified between video engagement and self-injurious hand mouthing. For the second individual a positive correlation was identified between engagement in reading or computer games and self-injury or disruption. By modifying the complementary response relationship, we achieved decreases in destructive behavior while maintaining levels of activity engagement.


Motivation Operations Affect Break Points During Progressive Ratio Schedules

NICOLE DEROSA (University of Southern Maine), Caitlin Fulton (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Michael E. Kelley (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Motivation is becoming increasingly invoked as a critical consideration for assessing and treatment problems of social significance. Thus, more attention has been devoted to motivation and its effect on behavior in the literature. In the current study, we exposed participants to either deprivation or satiation operations during a pre-assessment condition for multiple stimuli. Next, we exposed participants' academic responding to progressive-ratio (PR) schedules to assess the extent to which response rate and break points compared both within stimulus (deprivation vs. satiation) and across stimuli. Results suggested that pre-session exposure to reinforcement (satiation) disrupted responding and subsequent break points for all stimuli, and that the disruption was more marked as the progressive schedule increased. Results also suggested that different stimuli produced different response rates and different break points even though the deprivation and satiation operations were identical.


Effects of a Progressive Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior Schedule Across Stimuli

CY NADLER (Munroe Meyer Institute), Michael E. Kelley (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) schedules are often used to treat behavior that is maintained by automatic reinforcement. In such an arrangement, individuals must omit engagement in a particular response for a pre-specified period of time to gain access to reinforcement. This is little guidance from the literature for established a starting point, fading schedule, and terminal goal for the DRO schedule. In the current study, we used progressive increases in a DRO schedule to rapidly assess the break point of the DRO schedule (i.e., the interval at which the DRO schedule no longer functioned as an effective treatment). The nature of the progressive schedule increases were conceptually similar to those used in the progressive-ratio schedule literature, in which the response requirement for access to reinforcement is progressive increased over time. Results suggested that all stimuli were effective at reducing problem behavior relative to baseline at low DRO intervals, but stimuli were differentially effective as a treatment as the DRO intervals increased.




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