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 #93
Experimental Analysis of Social Interactions Between Nonhuman Animals
Monday, September 30, 2019
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 2, C3
Area: EAB/TBA; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Hiroto Okouchi (Osaka Kyoiku University)
CE Instructor: Hiroto Okouchi, Ph.D.

Nonhuman (and human) animals interact in a variety of ways in natural settings, patterns of behavior often described by such labels as cooperation, coordination, and aggression. The studies reported in this symposium were designed to study these basic social interactions in laboratory animals using both conventional operant conditioning research methods and combinations of the latter with field research methods. Blosser examined the development of coordination between responding of two pigeons when one nominally controls the reinforcement of the other, but her results reveal in a stark way the reciprocity between teacher and pupil in learning. Carvalho uses conventional reinforcement schedules with the interesting twist that responses of two organisms coordinated with one another are required for reinforcement. Pitts and colleagues further explore the controlling variables of aggressive behavior of an actor toward a co-actor as stimuli associated with the upcoming reinforcement schedule impact aggressive behavior of the actor. The results of each study extend the understanding of basic behavioral processes that operate on individual behavior to that of organisms bound together by social contingencies.

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.
Reciprocal Social Contingencies When Pigeons Serve as Teacher and Pupil
TONYA PAIGE BLOSSER (West Virginia University), Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: An organism’s behavior is shaped through direct interactions with the environment and agents acting as a “shaper.” Herrnstein (1964) suggested that a teacher-pigeon could shape a student-pigeon’s behavior so that both could obtain food. Because Herrnstein provided no details of his procedures and presented only a verbal description of the final performance, we replicated Herrnstein’s procedures to better understand the contingencies involved in the social exchange he described. One pigeon was designated the teacher and a second, the pupil. The pigeons were separated by a transparent wall. Each pigeon had its own food hopper; for the teacher, a response key; and for the student, a platform that, when stood on, electrically allowed pecks of the teacher to operate both food hoppers. Food was delivered to both pigeons when (1) the student was standing on the platform and (2) the teacher pecked the key when (1) occurred. This presentation traces the development of this reciprocal social relation and its generalization to the teaching of a new response to a naïve pigeon. The results are discussed in relation to basic behavioral processes operating on both pigeons as each learned the stimulus and response sequences necessary to complete the social interaction between them.

CANCELED: Evaluating Effects of Simple Reinforcement Schedules on Patterns of Coordinated Social Behaviors

LUCAS COUTO DE DE CARVALHO (Universidade Federal de São Carlos), Deisy De Souza (Universidade Federal de São Carlos), Leticia Santos (Universidade Federal de São Carlos), Alceu Regaço (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)

Cooperative behavior involves contingencies in which reinforcers for any given cooperating member depend in part on the behavior of other members. Coordinated relations within cooperating groups have been considered a unit of behavior at a social level of selection. This presentation will describe three experiments designed to evaluate if coordinated behaviors are selected by contingencies of reinforcement. A total of nineteen dyads of rats served in thee experiments. In Experiment 1, we investigated effects of Fixed Ratio (FR) schedules on patterns of coordinated responding in two groups with increasing FR requirements. In one group, rats worked on adjoining chambers and only coordinated responses were reinforced. In the second group, rats worked on separated chambers and only individual responding were reinforced. In Experiment 2, we contrasted coordinated performances between two Variable Interval (VI) schedules, one of which reinforcement depended on the behavior of both subjects, but without coordination, and the second in which reinforcers depended on coordinated behaviors. In Experiment 3, dyads are being exposed to Fixed and Variable Interval schedules with individual (independent reinforcement) and coordinated (mutual reinforcement) contingencies. All experiments indicate that coordinated responding changes as function of both consequences programmed for these behaviors and types of reinforcement schedules.

Effects of Rich-to-Lean Transitions in a Model of Social Aggression in Pigeons
RAYMOND C. PITTS (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Christine E. Hughes (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Dean C. Williams (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Pigeons keypecked under two-component multiple fixed-interval (FI) schedules. Each component provided a different reinforcer magnitude (small or large), signaled by the color of the key light. Attacks toward a live, protected target pigeon were measured. Large and small reinforcer components alternated irregularly such that four different transitions between the size of the past reinforcer and the size of the upcoming reinforcer (small past reinforcer-small upcoming reinforcer - lean-lean; small past reinforcer-large upcoming reinforcer - lean-rich; rich-lean; and rich-rich) occurred within each session. The FI for each component was the same within each phase, but was manipulated across phases. For all pigeons, more attack occurred following larger reinforcers. For 2 of the 3 pigeons, this effect was modulated by the size of the upcoming reinforcer; attack following larger reinforcers was elevated when the upcoming reinforcer was small (i.e., during rich-lean transitions). Interestingly, this rich-lean effect disappeared as the length of the FI schedule was increased (i.e., control by upcoming reinforcer size diminished with increases in the inter-reinforcement interval). These data are consistent with the notion that rich-lean transitions function aversively and, thus, can precipitate aggressive behavior. They also illustrate, however, that this function is modified by the temporal context of reinforcement.



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