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

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Symposium #416
CE Offered: BACB
Doing What Matters: Empirical and Conceptual Investigations Into Valuing as a Behavioral Phenomenon
Monday, May 29, 2017
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 5-7
Area: CBM/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Evelyn R. Gould (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)
Discussant: Timothy M. Weil (Tandem Behavioral Health & Wellness)
CE Instructor: Evelyn R. Gould, Ph.D.

Behavior analysis is first and foremost the study of reinforcement and not all reinforcement is equal. The effects of many reinforcers are determined by their physical properties but for humans with sophisticated verbal repertoires, the verbal behavior of the subject can have substantial effects on the potency of reinforcers. The topic of values is rarely addressed by behavior analysis and yet most every human identifies with values in some way. Furthermore, some effective behavior analytic interventions, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, incorporate verbal behavior manipulations that directly target values, to significant effect. Despite the clear importance of addressing values, there is no consensus on what values are, if anything, in a science of behavior. This symposium brings together two papers that address this question, by analyzing values as verbal behavior that describes broad classes of potential future consequences and which has significant function-altering effects on later stimuli. Thus, values are conceptualized as verbal events that have motivating operation and rule functions. The symposium concludes with a discussion by Dr. Timothy Weil.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): augmentals, motivating operations, rules, values
What’s the Point? A Behavioral Conceptualization of Valuing
EVELYN R. GOULD (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California and FirstSteps for Kids)
Abstract: Successful navigation of life’s ongoing challenges requires the establishment of powerful motivational operations and intermediary reinforcers. We propose that values can be conceptualized as a class of verbally constructed reinforcers (i.e., verbal rules), which establish or alter the degree to which consequences function as reinforces or punishers (Hayes et al., 2003). Values might thus provide us with the direction and motivation to engage in large and effortful behavior change, in the face of competing contingencies that can maintain problematic patterns of behavior. This talk will conduct a systematic behavioral conceptual analysis of values as rule-governed behavior and motivating operations, and discuss applications of the analysis across multiple areas of practice, in addition to suggesting areas of future research.

Moving With Meaning: Examining the Impact of Stimuli With Derived Values Functions on Behavioral Flexibility

VICTORIA SUMMERS (University of Louisiana, Lafayette), Nolan Williams (University of Louisiana, Lafayette), Gina Boullion (University of Mississippi), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Contacting ones values and engaging in behavior consistent with those values has been associated with improved physical and mental health, increases in quality of life, and increases in overall well-being.?Values have long been implemented in psychological treatments, but there seems to be little known about valuing in terms of behavioral processes. For example, it is unclear how valuing affects behavioral variability and sensitivity to changing contingencies in one's environment.? Because valuing is a verbal process, it could function to dominate control of behavior, desensitizing individuals to potential contingencies that could support more effective action. On the other hand, appetitive control is traditionally with more broad and variable behavioral sensitivity across repertoires.? The purpose of this study was to examine the effects that derived values functions have on behavior in response to changing contingencies. Participants who underwent relational training to establish derived values functions for arbitrary cues performed better and showed more sensitivity to changing reinforcement than participants for whom cues were meaningless.




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