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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #76
CE Offered: BACB
Exploring Behavioral Economic Variables in Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Saturday, May 26, 2007
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Iser Guillermo DeLeon, Ph.D.

In behavioral economics, reinforcement contingencies are viewed as transactions in which work is exchanged for a commodity (a reinforcer). Overall consumption of a commodity is determined as a function of its price (work or response requirements), often in relation to the availability and price of concurrently available commodities. Investigators have recently begun to explore behavioral economic relations in the response allocation of individuals with developmental disabilities, most notably with the aim of interpreting responding under various experimental constraints related to enhancing habilitation efforts. The present symposium will further examine ongoing research in translating behavioral economic theory into practical application for individuals with developmental disabilities. Among other things, the presentations will collectively examine: a) how increases in price can clarify differences in reinforcer value, b) the correspondence between steady-state performance on variable ratio schedules and progressive ratio schedules, c) how changes in consumption of a reinforcer are influenced by the manner in which that reinforcer is delivered in applied settings, and d) how environmental constraints related to access (i.e. open vs. closed economy) and stimulus similarity can interact to influence consumption.

Evaluation of Relative Reinforcer Potency as Predicted by Reinforcer Preference.
NICOLE M. TROSCLAIR-LASSERRE (Louisiana State University), Nathan Call (The Marcus Institute), Amanda M. Dahir (Louisiana State University)
Abstract: Previous research has evaluated the relationship between reinforcer value and treatment efficacy for behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement (e.g., Roane, Lerman, & Vorndran, 2001). Results indicated that high, medium, and low preference items yielded differences in reinforcer value and the most valuable reinforcer produced greatest treatment outcomes. In the present study, the relationship between reinforcer preference and reinforcer value was further examined. Six stimuli were ranked using a paired stimulus (PS) preference assessment and changes in preference during the course of the investigation were monitored via multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessments. A progressive ratio (PR) reinforcer assessment (Roane et al.) was then used to establish the relative reinforcer value of each item. Reliability data were collected for at least 25% of sessions and reliability coefficients exceeded 80% for each participant. Results indicate that (a) preference may not be stable across multiple assessments, (b) preference may predict relative reinforcer value as established by PS preference assessments, and (c) relative reinforcer value differences between stimuli appears to emerge only as schedule requirements increase.
Behavioral Economic Analyses of the Effects of Reinforcers of Differing Quality.
JASON C. BOURRET (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children), William V. Dube (University of Massachusetts Medical School, E.K. Shriver Center), Lauren Abraham (E.K. Shriver Center), Lindsay C. Peters (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Behavioral economic analyses typically involve examinations of responding maintained by, and consumption of, reinforcers at a range of “prices” with price equated with response requirement. In this presentation, we discuss a series of analyses of responding on variable-ratio (VR) and progressive-ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement maintained by reinforcers identified to differ in terms of reinforcing efficacy in a paired-stimulus preference assessment (Fisher et al., 1992). Reinforcers were initially characterized as being of high, moderate, and low preference. Steady state levels of responding maintained by each reinforcer were then obtained on a series of VR schedules. These data were compared to those obtained for responding maintained by each reinforcer on PR schedules. Responding on concurrent VR schedules in which high- and moderate-preference reinforcers, and moderate- and low-preference reinforcers, were arranged in competition and in which selective responding to one of the response options resulted in escalation of the schedule requirement for that option was examined. A final analysis involved a comparison of the effects of effort manipulations on responding maintained by qualitatively different reinforcers on PR schedules.
Examining Shifts in Demand Curves as a Function of Intervening Exposure to Varying Earning Requirements.
MELISSA J. ALLMAN (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Meagan Gregory (University of Florida), Michelle A. Frank-Crawford Crawford (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Demand curves have been used as an index of the effects of increases in price (response requirements) on total consumption of a reinforcer. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the sensitivity of demand curves to changes in reinforcer value following three sorts of exposure to stimuli: contingent access, noncontingent access, and total restriction. Three moderately preferred stimuli, identified via a paired stimulus preference assessment, were included in the analysis for each of 6 participants. Each stimulus was randomly assigned to one of three conditions. The stimulus assigned to condition A was delivered on an FR1 schedule for completion of an academic task for several weeks. The stimulus assigned to condition B was delivered noncontingently on a schedule yoked to the delivery of the stimulus in condition A. The stimulus assigned to condition C was totally restricted between the first and second demand curve analyses. Demand functions were derived for each stimulus prior to and after the manipulations. Results indicated that demand for the stimulus delivered noncontingently was generally more elastic following the manipulation than prior to the manipulation, whereas consumption generally remained constant for the stimuli in the other conditions.
Variables that Influence Responding under Open and Closed Economies.
TIFFANY KODAK (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Henry S. Roane (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Christopher E. Bullock (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Nathan Call (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: The results of basic experimentation have identified two types of economic systems that may affect responding during reinforcement-based programs. In a closed economy, participants are only able to access reinforcement through interaction with the experimental environment, whereas in an open economy, participants are able to access reinforcers by interacting with the experimental environment and can access additional (free) reinforcers following completion of the session. Generally speaking, higher response rates occur under closed economies relative to open economies. To date there have been few applied examinations of the relative effects of open and closed economic systems on adaptive responding. In the current presentation, we present two cases in which responding under open and closed economies were affected by various experimental constraints. In the first case, no differences in responding were observed under either condition when a single reinforcer was delivered. However, when responding resulted in access to multiple reinforcers, response rates increased under both open and closed economies. In the second case we parametrically varied the similarity of items provided during and following sessions to evaluate the conditions under which open economies influence within-session behavior. Reliability data were collected on at least 33% of all sessions and averaged over 90% for both cases. Results are discussed in terms of factors that may influence responding during reinforcement-based skill acquisition programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.



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