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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Special Event #37
SQAB Tutorial: Behavioral Models of Conditional Discrimination: Detection and Matching to Sample
Saturday, May 26, 2012
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
608 (Convention Center)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
Presenting Authors: : JOHN A. NEVIN (University of New Hampshire)

Quantitative models of conditional discrimination performance, based on well-established behavioral processes such as matching to relative reinforcement, effects of reinforcement on resistance to change, and stimulus generalization, can account for many findings of studies with nonhuman animals in signal-detection and matching-to-sample paradigms. This tutorial will provide a guided tour of these models as they have developed since 1978, explain their quantitative structures, and discuss their strengths and limitations in their confrontation with systematic data sets. The models to be discussed will be available as spreadsheets so that students and researchers can explore their properties and apply them to their own data.

JOHN A. NEVIN (University of New Hampshire)
After completing undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at Yale University in 1954 and serving in the Coast Guard for 5 years, John A. (Tony) Nevin went to Columbia University for graduate work in experimental psychology.  He studied color vision with C. H. Graham and signal detection with W. J. McGill, and participated in research with W. W. Cumming and R. Berryman on matching to sample in pigeons.  His doctoral dissertation, directed by W. N. Schoenfeld, was concerned with schedules of conditioned reinforcement.  After receiving his Ph.D. in 1963, he taught at Swarthmore College until 1968.  He returned to Columbia from 1968 until 1972, where he served two years as department chair.  He then moved to the University of New Hampshire, where he taught until retiring in 1995.  The models discussed in this tutorial reflect the convergence of his interests in psychophysical and behavioral approaches to the effects of reinforcement on discrimination and resistance to change.



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