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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Paper Session #464
Applied Animal Behavior: Research
Monday, May 29, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom H
Area: AAB
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Erin E. Watkins (WMU)
Assessing Cat Preference for Social, Food, Toy and Scent Stimuli Using a Free-Operant Method
Domain: Applied Research
KRISTYN VITALE SHREVE (Oregon State University), Monique Udell (Oregon State University )
Abstract: Although cats can be conditioned to engage in numerous behaviors, some believe cats are un-trainable, a reputation potentially stemming from a lack of knowledge with respect to cats' most preferred stimuli (MPS) and what stimuli motivate cats, important aspects of operant conditioning. This study investigated individual cat preferences for categories of stimuli in two populations (pet and shelter). Forty-six cats underwent a free-operant preference test with stimuli in human social, food, toy and scent categories. Stimuli with the highest proportion of interaction within each category were compared in a final session to determine each cat's MPS category. For within-category comparisons, more individuals spent at least half the session time engaging with the social stimulus, significantly more than other categories of stimuli (all p = 0.0001). In between-category comparisons to determine MPS, social interaction was preferred significantly more than toy (p = 0.0003) and scent (p = 0.0001) stimuli. Food was preferred significantly more than scent (p = 0.0003). Results indicate preference is highly individual, however social interaction and food were the MPS for the majority of cats. Future research can assess ability of MPSto serve as a reinforcer, informing further applied uses of these stimuli in cat training situations.
Influence of Training Procedures on Tobacco Generalization Performance in Scent Detection Rats
Domain: Applied Research
ERIN E. WATKINS (Western Michigan University), Timothy Edwards (University of Waikato), Alan D. Poling (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Tobacco was smoked by over 1.1 billion people in 2015, making nicotine one of the most commonly used drugs in the world (World Health Organization, 2016). Illicit trade in cigarettes undermines effective health, safety, and taxation policies and promotes further criminal activity (Titeca, Joossesns, & Raw, 2011). APOPO, a Belgian nonprofit organization headquartered in Tanzania, employs giant African pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) in demining operations as landmine detection animals and as a screening resource to identify sputum samples from TB-positive individuals. In 2014, exploratory research conducted by APOPO demonstrated the rats' ability to detect tobacco products through scent-detection and outlined additional research necessary for pouched rats to contribute to controlling illicit cigarette trade (Mahoney et al., 2014). In the current study, rats were trained to respond to filter samples of 21 cigarette brands and not to filter samples of controls. Tests were conducted with 15 untrained cigarette brands to measure generalization. Training resulted in average hit rates ranging from 91% to 100% and false alarm rates ranging from 2% to 5%. Tests resulted in hits on 38% and 48% of generalization samples. These results indicate modest generalization from trained to untrained cigarette brands. Responding on generalization samples increased when cigarette brands were trained sequentially. Further research is needed before pouched rats can be employed as illicit tobacco detection animals.



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