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 #160
CE Offered: BACB
Translational Research on Choice Responding
Sunday, May 27, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Betsy A
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Wayne W. Fisher (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
CE Instructor: Wayne W. Fisher, Ph.D.

Choice responding refers to the manner in which individuals allocate their responding among available response options. In this symposium, a series of translational studies ranging from basic to applied are presented that show how variables that affect choice responding, such as reinforcement rate, immediacy, and quality, can be quantified and manipulated to improve our understanding of behavior and inform clinical assessments and interventions.

Human Risky Choice in an Adjusting-Delay Procedure.
CHRISTOPHER E. BULLOCK (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Timothy D. Hackenberg (University of Florida), Patrick S. Johnson (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Participants were exposed to a discrete-trial choice procedure in which responding on either of two response options produced 30 s of video access after some delay. For one option (risky choice), the video was delivered after a delay, the length of which was randomly selected from 2 preset values. For the other option, the video was delivered after a delay that was set at 1 s at the beginning of a condition and was thereafter adjusted as a function of choice. Sessions consisted of 20 trials, arranged in blocks of 4. The first 2 trials of each block were comprised of forced exposure to each option followed by 2 choice trials. If the risky-choice option was selected twice, the delay to the adjusting option decreased by 2 s for the following block of trials. If the adjusting option was chosen twice, then the delay produced by this option increased by 2 s for the following block of trials. If each option was chosen once, the delay to the adjusting option was not changed. That is, within a condition the delay value of the adjusting option varied while the risky-choice delays were held constant. However, across conditions the delay values of the risky-choice option were varied (1, 59; 10, 50; 20, 40; 30, 30) while holding the arithmetic average constant. The value of the adjusting delay at which a participant was indifferent between the two options depended on the specific delay values that comprised the risky option. In some cases the delay at which indifference occurred was ordered with respect to the smaller delay of the risky-choice option. The data are discussed in terms of the feasibility of hyperbolic-delay discounting to account for the findings.
Applied Explorations on the Relation between Effort and Relative Stimulus Value.
ISER GUILLERMO DELEON (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Meagan Gregory (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Gregory A. Lieving (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Melissa J. Allman (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Lisa M. Toole (Kennedy Krieger Institute), David M. Richman (University of Illinois)
Abstract: Recent research with non-humans has suggested that the relative value of stimuli can be influenced by the effort required to earn reinforcers associated with those stimuli (Clement & Zentall, 2003; Friedrich & Zentall, 2004). Generally, these studies have observed a shift in preference towards stimuli (e.g., key colors, feeder locations) associated with reinforcers earned through greater effort over stimuli associated with reinforcers earned through lesser effort when relative effort is later equated during preference tests. The current series of studies was designed to explore this phenomenon in relation to (1) preferences for qualitatively distinct reinforcers themselves rather than the stimuli associated with those reinforcers, in children with developmental disabilities; and (2) sensitivity to response cost (i.e., contingent loss of reinforcers) for stimuli earned through greater versus lesser effort in college students. In Experiment 1, children’s preferences for reinforcers, as measured by standard preference assessments, generally increased as a function of effort required to obtain them and decreased when those reinforcers required no effort to obtain them. In Experiment 2, a similar preparation was used to alter food preferences for a child with highly selective eating patterns. In Experiment 3, college students’ sensitivity to loss of stimuli exchangeable for money was an increasing function of the effort required to earn them. The results from these experiments extend the basic findings to humans in more naturalistic settings and stimuli. Taken together, the results have broad applied and conceptual significance in the characterization of the dynamics between behavior and consequences.
Examination of Choice Responding in the Development of Treatments for Destructive Behavior.
HENRY S. ROANE (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Ashley C. Glover (The Marcus Institute), Robert-Ryan S. Pabico (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Translational research involves the extension of laboratory findings to clinical populations and problems. One such extension is the use of concurrent-operant arrangements to evaluate preference for different reinforcers (Fisher & Mazur, 1997). Most reinforcement-based treatments for destructive behavior can be interpreted as a choice paradigm in which response allocation is based upon factors such as response effort, the schedule of reinforcement, and the quality of reinforcement. In this presentation, we will present cases in which treatments for destructive behavior were conceptualized as a choice arrangement (i.e., appropriate behavior and destructive behavior resulted in different reinforcers). Each case will be discussed in terms of the variables that affected response allocation. For all datasets, reliability data were collected with two independent observers for over 30% of sessions and was over 90%. Results will suggest the manner in which the availability of multiple reinforcers in a choice paradigm affects the efficacy of reinforcement-based interventions for destructive behavior. These results will be discussed in terms of practical considerations that are associated with the use of multiple reinforcers when developing treatments.
Competition between Positive and Negative Reinforcement.
WAYNE W. FISHER (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Joanna Lomas (The Marcus Institute), Michael E. Kelley (The Marcus Institute and Emory University)
Abstract: Results of previous studies (e.g., Lalli et al., 1999) showing that participants chose alternative behavior maintained by positive reinforcement over destructive behavior maintained by negative reinforcement may have been due to (a) a preference for positive over negative reinforcement or (b) the positive reinforcer acting as an motivating operation (MO) that altered the aversiveness of the demands. In Experiment 1 of the current investigation, we maintained an escape contingency while introducing and withdrawing a concurrent schedule of noncontingent positive reinforcement (food delivered on an FT schedule). For both participants, noncontingent positive reinforcement acted as an MO and lowered escape-reinforced destructive behavior. In Experiment 2, we compared the relative effects of positive and negative reinforcement using equivalent communication responses under both a restricted-choice condition (in which participants could choose positive or negative reinforcement, but not both) and an unrestricted-choice condition (in which the participants could choose one or both reinforcers). Both participants chose positive over negative reinforcement in the restricted-choice condition (indicating a preference for positive reinforcement). However, in the unrestricted-choice condition (in which participants could choose one or both reinforcers), one participant chose both reinforcers, indicating that motivation for escape was not abolished. In contrast, the other primarily chose only positive reinforcement, indicating that for this participant, the positive reinforcer acted primarily as an MO and lessened the effectiveness of the escape contingency. Results are discussed in terms of the effects of positive reinforcement on escape-reinforced problem behavior.



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