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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #342
CE Offered: BACB
Current Research in Applied Behavioral Economics
Monday, May 26, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Stevens 2
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Henry S. Roane (Munroe-Meyer Institute)
CE Instructor: Henry S. Roane, Ph.D.

Behavioral economics refers to the sub-field of behavior analysis in which responding is viewed as an interaction between price and consumption. Although economic principles are commonly utilized in the experimental analysis of behavior, such analyses have only recently been presented in the applied literature. In the current symposium, four lines of research will be presented in which principles of behavioral economics are applied to problems of applied significance. In the first study, the price of highly preferred stimulus was increased by manipulating the distance required to access the stimuli. Results demonstrated the emergence of substitutable reinforcers as response requirements increased. In the second investigation, demand elasticity was evaluated within the context of a positive reinforcement-based treatment for negatively reinforced problem behavior. In the third study, the exchange interval for a classroom-wide token economy was either immediate or delayed (24 hours). Results indicated that the immediate exchange produced higher levels of task behavior relative to baseline and the delayed exchange condition. The final study involved a token economy in which exchange schedules were manipulated in the context of ongoing program implementation to evaluate the effects of price variations on token exchange.

A Behavioral Economic Approach to Preference Assessments.
MARY ELLEN FANNAN (EPIC School), Patrick R. Progar (Caldwell College)
Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to determine whether preference would shift and demand would decrease as a result of increased response effort required to obtain a preferred item. Phase 2 of the current study evaluated reinforcer effects of the items identified as highly preferred by the preference assessment. A standard multiple stimulus with replacement preference assessment was conducted for each participant. When the first session was over, the item chosen most frequently during that session was moved further away from the individual at the start of the second session up to a distance of an additional 24 inches from the participant. Stimuli identified as highly preferred during the initial preference assessment sessions were no longer highly preferred when the price of the stimuli were increased. Rather, a substitutable stimulus was identified for each participant. The reinforcer assessment demonstrated that even though these items were no longer preferred they did function as reinforcers.
Assessing Demand Elasticity for Positive Reinforcers Against Concurrently Available Avoidance of Task Demands.
MANDY M. TRIGGS (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michelle A. Frank-Crawford Crawford (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Meagan Gregory (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Melissa J. Allman (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Abbey Carreau (Kennedy Krieger Institutue)
Abstract: A brief demand elasticity analysis was conducted with three participants with developmental disabilities in an attempt to identify edible stimuli that were preferred over task avoidance for use in subsequent treatment analyses for escape-maintained problem behavior. Each analysis consisted of 25 trials. During each trial, a concurrent chain schedule was arranged such that the participant was given a choice between two available options. Responses on one option resulted in the presentation of a work task and reinforcement for compliance with one of the tested stimuli. The schedule of reinforcement for task completion began at FR1. Following every 5 trials, the FR schedule requirement was increased to FR2, then FR5, FR10, and FR20. Responses on the second option resulted in no work requirements (i.e., a 1-minute break), but also no positive reinforcement. This analysis was repeated with each of the top four preferred edible stimuli. The stimuli chosen for later analysis were those for which demand was least elastic in relation to escape as response requirements increased. The treatment results reveal that the analysis was successful in identifying stimuli that were preferred over escape and were subsequently included in an effective treatment evaluation.
Temporal Discounting Predicts Student Responsiveness to Exchange Delays in a Classwide Token Economy.
DEREK D. REED (Syracuse University), Brian K. Martens (Syracuse University), Lauren Axelrod (Syracuse University), Lauren McClenney (Syracuse University)
Abstract: This study investigated the degree to which 26 sixth-grade students' discounting of hypothetical monetary rewards predicted their responsiveness to both immediate and delayed token exchanges in a classwide token system. Specifically, students were administered a hypothetical monetary choice assessment which pitted smaller, immediate rewards against larger, delayed rewards. Students were then exposed to a classwide token system (targeting on-task behavior) in a multiple baseline design across 3 classrooms. Baseline observations yielded relatively high levels of on-task behavior with no intervention. Following baseline, an immediate exchange delay was implemented in which students exchanged tokens immediately after each 30-minute observation. During this immediate condition, students' levels of on-task behavior increased substantially from baseline. Finally, a 24-hour exchange delay was implemented following stable levels of on-task behavior in the immediate condition. During this delayed condition, students' levels of on-task behavior fell between baseline and immediate condition percentages. These results suggest that students' levels of on-task behavior are indeed sensitive to even moderate exchange delays. These students' levels of on-task behavior during intervention conditions were then correlated with their obtained discounting parameters. Results indicated that each student's obtained discounting parameters were significantly related to his/her responsiveness to exchange delay.
Behavioral Economic Manipulations in a Closed Token Economy.
KATHRYN GUENEVERE HORTON (The New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In the present study, price was manipulated by changing the exchange schedules of token economies with three participants diagnosed with autism. Participants lived at a residential school for children with developmental disabilities. Token economies were in effect twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and reinforcers arranged on the token economy were not available from other sources. Exchange schedules were manipulated in the context of ongoing implementation of the economy and data were collected by on-shift staff over periods of five hours each day. Implications of the findings for empirical identification of optimal prices for use in token economies and the generality of work and demand functions are discussed.



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