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 #178
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Preference Assessments for Children With Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 28, 2017
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Abby Hodges (Baylor University)
Discussant: Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University)
CE Instructor: Rachel Scalzo, Ph.D.

Identification of preferred stimuli is critical for effective intervention programs for individuals with disabilities. Direct preference assessments have been the gold standard for identification of preferred stimuli among individuals not capable of vocally expressing preferences. However, direct preference assessments are mostly commonly implemented to identify preferred tangible stimuli. In this symposium, we will present research regarding the advances in the assessment of preference for social stimuli and other novel stimuli. The first presentation will report results from an examination of preference for social interactions delivered by various social partners. The second presentation will describe the results from a study that evaluated two paired-choice presentation methods, video and picture, to identify preference for social stimuli. The third presentation will summarize the results of a study that examined preference for therapy animals. The final presentation will report the results from an examination of the degree to which video modeling influenced preference for initially low-preferred stimuli. The final discussion will summarize these studies, highlight the applied value of the results, and discuss future research.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): preference assessment, social interaction, social reinforcer

An Examination of Social Preference Across Different Social Partners for Individuals with Disabilities

RACHELLE HUNTINGTON (University of Washington), Ilene S. Schwartz (University of Washington)

Few studies to date have examined variations in preference that could arise when identical preference assessments are administered by unique social partners (Clay et al., 2012; Rapp, 2005). This study examines the contextual sensitivity and validity of social preference assessment results when the relationship of the participant with the assessor or "social partner" is varied. Three identical, forced choice (Fisher, et al., 1992) social preference assessments were conducted across three different social partners for a young adult man with Autism. Assessments were conducted with his mother, a regular staff member, and an unknown researcher. Results from the three preference assessments showed that he preferred unique social activities with his mother, the most familiar social partner, and different activities with the staff member and unknown researcher. Results from a follow-up reinforcer assessment showed that when social activities were contingently offered and compared, the participant had higher rates of responding when the uniquely selected social activity was delivered by the corresponding social partner. These results suggest that preference for social activities could vary based on the social partner delivering them. Implications for the validity of social preference assessments when administered by an individual who will not be delivering the social reinforcers and the strength of identified social reinforcers across different social partners.

Comparison of Video and Pictorial Preference Assessments for Social Interactions
SUPRIYA RADHAKRISHNAN (Baylor University), Tonya Nichole Davis (Baylor University), Lauren Uptegrove (Baylor University), Abby Hodges (Baylor University), Regan Weston (Baylor University), Stephanie Gerow (Baylor University)
Abstract: Effective training programs for individuals with disabilities generally involve the use of effective reinforcers. The use of social interactions as reinforcers has several advantages over tangible and edible stimuli in skill acquisition and behavior modification programs. For example, they are inexpensive, more practical, less stigmatizing, and promote greater generalization. This study examined two procedures to assess preference for social interactions. Two modified paired-choice preference assessments were implemented. In the video preference assessment, social interactions were presented to the participants on two iPads, each containing a 5-s video of the participant engaging in the specified social interaction with the experimenter. In the pictorial preference assessment, social interactions were presented to the participants via two photographs of the participant engaging in the specified social interaction with the experimenter. Contingent upon selecting a video or photograph, the child received the social interaction. Reinforcer efficacy of the high- and low-preferred interactions from both assessments were evaluated using a concurrent operant reinforcement assessment. Results indicated high correlation between preference assessment results obtained from both presentation formats. Additionally, social interactions identified as high preferred in both presentation formats consistently served as reinforcers. Implications for clinical applications will be discussed.

Examining Factors Related to Animal-Assisted Therapy for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Preference and Reinforcer Assessment

ANNA HOGG (Thompson Center for Autism ), Casey J. Clay (University of Missouri), Emma Keicher (Thompson Center for Autism), Anne Clohisy (Doyle) (Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders), SungWoo Kahng (University of Missouri)

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) typically display deficits in social interaction and have restricted interests. Assessing preference for stimuli has been found to be valuable when determining reinforcers to be used in interventions to address these behavior deficits. Recent research suggests benefits of the presence of pets and therapy animals in social responding of children with ASD. It follows, therapy animals may be preferred and valuable as reinforcers in treatments for these children. However, preference for animals, and contingent access to animals to increase desired responding has not been clearly demonstrated in research. Six children ages 3-5 with ASD participated in this study. We assessed preference for, and reinforcing efficacy of a therapy animal (i.e., dog) in children with ASD. Results of this study thus far have revealed idiosyncratic preferences for the therapy animal. However, we have found preference has been a predictor of reinforcing efficacy for all participants.

Effects of Video Modeling on Preference for Toys
CYNTHIA P. LIVINGSTON (University of South Florida), brienna Meuret (University of South Florida), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Children diagnosed with autism often exhibit a limited range of preferred stimuli. This can lead to problem behavior or a decline in quality of life. Previous research has demonstrated observing peers approach and interact with stimuli can affect an observer’s preferences for those stimuli. Video modeling is an effective intervention for many individuals with autism, and may be extended toward increasing the breadth of preferences in such individuals. The purpose of the current study was to examine the degree to which video modeling could be used to increase the preference of initially low-preferred stimuli in individuals with autism. A multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessment was used to evaluate the effects of the intervention. Overall, video modeling was effective at increasing preference of previously low-preferred stimuli.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh