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

Previous Page


Symposium #250
CE Offered: BACB
Establishing and Assessing Preferences for Social Interactions, Auditory Stimulation, and Community-Based Activities
Sunday, May 27, 2007
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Elizabeth DE
Area: DDA/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Thomas S. Higbee, Ph.D.

Stimulus preference assessments have been demonstrated to effectively predict reinforcers for individuals with and without disabilities. Most of the research in this area, however, has focussed on the assessment of edible and tangible (e.g., toys, leisure materials) stimuli. Papers in this symposium will address the use of this technology to assess preferences for various types of social interactions, auditory stimulation, and community-based activities.

Assessing Preferences for Community-Based Activities.
TRACEY TORAN (New England Center for Children), Rebecca Maxfield (New England Center for Children), Elisse M. Battle (New England Center for Children), Richard B. Graff (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Although pictorial paired-stimulus (PPS) preference assessments have been used to successfully identify edible and sensory reinforcers, their utility in accurately identifying preferences for community activities has not been explored. In this study, 2 individuals with developmental disabilities, ages 34-36, participated. Both participants had token reinforcement programs that allowed them access to additional community activities contingent on the absence of challenging behavior. Seven sets of PPS assessments were conducted with 6 community activities. During the PPS assessment, pictures of two community activities were randomly selected and placed in front of the participant, who was asked, “Where do you want to go?” No consequence was provided for pointing to one of the pictures. The percentage of opportunities each picture was touched was calculated, and preference hierarchies were developed. Interobserver agreement (IOA) data were recorded in 75% of sessions across participants and assessments; mean IOA was 100%. Immediately after completing the PPS assessment, the participants traded in their tokens, and went to the community location of their choice. On 5 of 7 occasions, the participant traded in their tokens to access the item that ranked first on the PPS assessment, suggesting that PPS assessments may accurately identify preferences for community-based activities.
An Evaluation of a Stimulus Preference Assessment of Auditory Stimuli for Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities.
ERIN HORROCKS (Utah State University), Thomas S. Higbee (Utah State University)
Abstract: Previous researchers have used Stimulus Preference Assessment (SPA) methods to identify salient reinforcers for individuals with developmental disabilities including tangible, leisure, edible, and olfactory stimuli. In the present study, SPA procedures were used to identify potential auditory reinforcers and determine the reinforcement value of preferred and non-preferred auditory stimuli. The results from this study suggest that the paired stimulus procedure utilized was effective in identifying preferred and non-preferred auditory stimuli, as the contingent application of the identified auditory stimuli produced higher rates of correct responding than did non-preferred auditory stimuli for all participants.
Assessment Protocol for the Identification of Preferred Socially Mediated Consequences.
KRISTA SMABY (New England Center for Children), Rebecca P. F. MacDonald (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)
Abstract: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often present with insensitivity to the naturally occurring socially mediated consequences that effectively strengthen and maintain behavior in typically developing children. This paper describes as assessment protocol designed specifically to identify relative preference for social consequences in children with ASD. Three preschool age children diagnosed with ASD participated. Different colored chips were used for each of four experimental conditions: Red for extinction, and blue, green, and yellow for social consequence conditions that evaluated tickles, head rubs, and praise, respectively. The rate of passing a chip to the examiner was the dependent variable. Relative preference for three socially mediated consequences was assessed: tickle, head rub, and praise. Each session consisted of an Extinction condition immediately followed by a Social Consequence condition. IOA ranged from 95 to 100% across conditions and subjects. The assessment procedure identified a preferred socially mediated consequence for each child and showed that the preferred consequence functioned as a reinforcer by the increase in response rate relative to the rate in the previous Extinction condition. Determining sensitivity to social consequences may allow the clinician to augment the acquisition of typical social behavior.
Efficacy of and Preference for Schedules of Social Interaction.
KEVIN C. LUCZYNSKI (University of Kansas), Gregory P. Hanley (University of Kansas)
Abstract: The present study systematically replicates and extends previous research (Hanley, Piazza, Fisher, Contrucci, and Maglieri, 1997) on the efficacy and preference for two different schedules of reinforcement, differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior (DRA) and noncontingent reinforcement (NCR), by evaluating their effects with typically developing children. Efficacy and preference were assessed using a concurrent-chains arrangement within a multielement design. Next, the effects of introducing a signaled delay into the DRA condition and yoking the frequency, amount, and temporal distribution of reinforcement to the NCR condition on efficacy and preference was evaluated. Interobserver agreement was collected on 76% of all sessions and averaged 97%. The results replicated the findings from Hanley et al. (1997) with participants preferring the DRA schedule in comparison to the NCR schedule. Preference shifts were also not observed when the delays to reinforcement were introduced. Implications for the use of reinforcement schedules with typically developing children are discussed.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh