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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #71
Reinforcement in Nonhuman Animal Social Behaivor
Monday, September 30, 2019
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 2, Meeting Room 24/25
Area: EAB/CSS; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Phil Reed (Swansea University)
CE Instructor: Phil Reed, Ph.D.

Although the operation of social reinforcement is widely cited as an important variable in social interactions, there is relatively little basic research on its controlling variables. One way of isolating these variables is with nonhuman animals under controlled laboratory conditions. The papers invited for this symposium are examples of doing just that. Ackerman examines social contingencies that might determine the sharing of a single source of reinforcement. Hackenberg and colleagues consider social reinforcement in an economic context and compare its effects to those of food reinforcement. Okouchi and his colleagues addresses the problem of mutual reinforcement and some of the factors that determine whether or not it is a viable concept when examined experimentally. Saeki and his colleagues examine the effects of sharing reinforcement sources or not on choice behavior. The studies in this symposium also illustrate the multidimensional nature of social reinforcement and suggest the importance of developing clear definitions when invoking it in discussions of human behavior. (159 words)

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

This symposium is suitable for a wide range of audiences, from beginning practitioners to seasoned ones.

Learning Objectives: 1. Develop insights as to how behavior analysts might account for interactions between two people. 2. Develop a better understanding of how social relations might be studied using behavior-analytic methods and concepts. 3. Learn about the current status of research on social behavior in behavior analysis.

You Raise My Hopper, I’ll Raise Yours: Training Cooperation Between Pigeons

AMANDA ACKERMAN (West Virginia University), Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)

Cooperation requires that the reinforcers for each participant be equitable and that they depend on the other’s behavior. In this study, cooperation between two pigeons was trained in a systematic replication of an earlier study using rats and electric shock avoidance. Standing on a platform was reinforced with food from a hopper 30 cm away. After standing occurred consistently, two stimulus conditions were added such that in the presence of one hopper approach was reinforced and in the presence of the other standing on the platform was reinforced. The functions of these stimuli was reversed for the two pigeons. That is, the light that was the S+ for hopper approach for Pigeon A was the S+ for standing on the platform for Pigeon B. When behavior was under stimulus control, the pigeons were placed together in the study space. Over sessions, the lights were gradually removed and stimulus control was transferred to the co-actor’s behavior. Thus, the terminal performance was two interlocking response chains: as one pigeon approached the hopper the other approached the platform. After one pigeon ate for a time-limited period, the two switched positions. The results are discussed as social contingencies in interlocking chained schedules.

Behavioral Economics of Food and Social Reinforcement
TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (Reed College), Cyrus Fletcher Kirkman (Reed College), Haoran Wan (Reed College), Carol Franceschini (Reed College)
Abstract: Prior research has shown that responding can be maintained under concurrent food and social reinforcement in rats, but little is known about interactions between these reinforcers. In the present study, we approached the problem from a behavioral economic perspective, using demand-curve methods to analyze interactions between food and social reinforcement. Four rats were given repeated choices between food and 10-s of social access to a familiar rat on concurrent schedules. Social access was arranged by lifting a door to a restraint, within which the partner rat was held. In Phase 1, the price of social access was held constant at fixed ratio (FR) 1 across all conditions, while the price of food was systematically increased from FR 1 to FR 64. In Phase 2, the price of food was held constant at FR 1 across conditions, while the price of social access was systematically increased from FR 1 to FR 64. Production of both food and social reinforcers decreased with increases in their own price (own-price elasticity), and increased with increases in the price of the other reinforcer (cross-price elasticity), suggesting a substitutable relationship. The methods show promise as a way to quantify interactions between qualitatively different reinforcers.
Does Mutual Reinforcement Function as Reinforcement?
HIROTO OKOUCHI (Osaka Kyoiku University), Wataru Takafuji (Osaka Kyoiku University), Yuto Sogawa (Osaka Kyoiku University)
Abstract: Despite ubiquity by casual observation, a contingency under which a response by an individual yields a reinforcer delivered to another person, and vice versa, has received relatively little empirical attention. The present experiments examined whether this contingency, mutual reinforcement, increases response frequency and whether it maintains responding. Following hopper training, two pairs of pigeons were exposed a schedule of mutual reinforcement; a peck of the key by one pigeon permitted another pigeon to access to food, and vice versa (Experiment 1). The results did not provide any evidence that mutual reinforcement increases response frequency. In Experiment 2, a standard schedule of fixed-ratio (FR) 1 was followed by the schedule of mutual reinforcement for the pairs of pigeons. Although rates of responses under the mutual reinforcement were lower than those under the FR 1 for all pigeons but the rates were higher than those under a schedule of variable-time for three of four pigeons, suggesting that the mutual reinforcement maintained responding. With some limitations, the present results demonstrate that mutual reinforcement functioned as reinforcement.

Pigeons' Choice Between Shared and Unshared Feeding Sites in Game Situations

DAISUKE SAEKI (Osaka City University), Shoko Kitano (Osaka City University), Tetsuo Yamaguchi (Toho University), Masato Ito (Osaka City University)

Many studies on cooperation in nonhuman animals have shown that they do not increase cooperative choices and fail to maximize rewards in the prisoner’s dilemma game. Some studies reported that pigeons did not show preference for cooperation even when the other player adopted the tit-for-tat (TFT) strategy, where choosing cooperation leads to maximization of the reward. The present study examined pigeons’ cooperative choices in game situations that represented a more natural setting than in the previous studies. Seventeen pigeons were used as subjects. In the experiment, each pigeon walked to choose between the “shared” and “unshared” feeding sites where food pellets determined by the game structure conditions (the prisoner’s dilemma game or chicken game) were presented. The other player was a computer using the TFT or random (RND) strategy; however, other pigeon could be seen at the “shared” feeding site in the “stooge” condition. The results show that choice proportion for the “shared” feeding site (cooperation) was significantly higher in the “stooge” than in the “no-stooge” condition, and higher in the TFT than in the RND condition (Figure 1). These results suggest that pigeons can act more cooperatively in nature than in the laboratory.




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