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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #43
CE Offered: BACB
Evaluating the Behavioral Mechanisms of the DRO: What Makes it Work and Why?
Saturday, May 27, 2017
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT/PCH; Domain: Translational
Chair: Alison M. Betz (Coastal Behavior Analysis)
CE Instructor: Alison M. Betz, Ph.D.
Abstract: Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) is a commonly used procedure for the treatment of problem behavior, especially when the target behavior is maintained by automatic reinforcement. Although there is a great deal of published research that shows the effectiveness of DRO, there are surprisingly few studies that evaluate why DRO procedures are effective. Many argue that the procedure’s effectiveness is due to the increase of all other behavior that may compete with the target behavior. However, others argue there may be other behavioral mechanisms that are responsible, such as extinction, punishment, or a combination of multiple factors. The three researchers presenting their studies in this symposium have begun to evaluate different components of the DRO that may contribute to its effectiveness. The first presenter will share research from a human operant study that evaluates the extent to which reinforcing other behavior decreases target behavior. The second presenter will present a 2-part study evaluating how preferences and contingency arrangement influence the effectiveness of a DRO procedure. Finally, the third paper will share research comparing the use of a resetting and non-resetting DRO contingency.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Differential Reinforcement, Translational Research
Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior: An Experimental Analysis of Adventitious Reinforcement
(Basic Research)
CATALINA REY (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Alison M. Betz (Coastal Behavior Analysis), Andressa Sleiman (Florida Institute of Technology ), Toshikazu Kuroda (Aichi Bunkyo University), Christopher A. Podlesnik (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) is a procedure commonly used to decrease problem behavior. Although DRO schedules have been well researched, we know little about the processes involved. DRO schedules may decrease behavior through extinction, negative punishment, adventitious reinforcement, or some combination. Recent research has found some support for the adventitious reinforcement hypothesis (Jessel, Borrero, & Becraft; 2015). This study replicated and extended previous research by evaluating the effects of DRO schedules on other behavior in a human operant arrangement. Participants played a computer game with two response options and received points according to various reinforcement schedules. We compared rate of responding across repeated exposures and varying durations of DRO, yoked variable time schedule, and extinction probes. Results showed DRO schedules resulted in the lowest rate of the target response and the highest rate of the other response. Results also showed that DRO schedules sometimes resulted in adventitious reinforcement of other behavior, though often times, it was a fleeting effect and other response rates did not maintain. Finally, response reductions during DRO schedules could not be entirely explained by adventitious reinforcement. The mechanisms responsible for response reductions during DRO schedules may largely depend on the discriminability of the contingency.
Translational and Applied Analysis of What Makes Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior Work
(Applied Research)
JUSTINE HENRY (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment; Florida Ins), Michael E. Kelley (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment; Florida Institute of Technology), Aurelia Ribeiro (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment; Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) is commonly used to treat problem behavior, particularly when maintained by automatic reinforcement. When problem behavior is maintained by automatic reinforcement, the efficacy of DRO depends upon the extent to which the alterative stimuli compete with the automatic reinforcer. Children diagnosed with autism participated in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we conducted a translational analysis of highly (HP), medium (MP), and lowly (LP) preferred stimuli to assess the extent to which HP and LP stimuli reduced behavior maintained by MP stimuli when used in the context of a DRO. MP stimuli simulated an automatic reinforcer. In Experiment 2, we conducted competing items assessments, and compared the efficacy of items that did and did not compete with automatically maintained behavior. Results demonstrate that the efficacy of DRO depends upon the relative preference of reinforcers and the manner in which the contingencies are arranged.

Comparing Resetting to Non-Resetting DRO Procedures to Reduce Stereotypy in a Child With Autism

(Applied Research)
CHANA GEHRMAN (Florida Institute of Technology; The Scott Center for Autism Treatment), David A. Wilder (Florida Institute of Technology), Alex Forton (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment; Florida Institute of Technology ), Kristin M. Albert (Florida Institute of Technology; The Scott Center for Autism Treatment)

We compared a resetting to a non-resetting differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) procedure to reduce stereotypy exhibited by young boy with autism. During the resetting DRO, a reinforcer was delivered contingent upon the absence of stereotypy during the DRO interval. If stereotypy occurred, the DRO interval was immediately reset. The non-resetting DRO procedure was identical, except that contingent upon stereotypy, the DRO interval continued until it expired; a new DRO interval then began. Results indicate that the DRO procedures were equally effective to reduce stereotypy, but the participant preferred the resetting DRO procedure.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh