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 #26
CE Offered: BACB
Concurrent-Operant Choice in Behavior Analysis: Translating Findings from Basic Research to Promote Healthy Change
Sunday, September 29, 2019
11:30 AM–12:20 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 2, C2
Area: CBM/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Rebecca Kolb (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Rebecca Kolb, Ph.D.

Many applied behavioral interventions are concerned with affecting the choices (i.e., response allocation) of clients. For example, when a behavior analyst treats severe problem behavior, the goal is often conceptualized as decreasing problem behavior choices (e.g., aggression) while increasing choices to engage in appropriate alternatives (e.g., communication). Likewise, an interventionist working with adults on health-related goals may be interested in promoting more time engaged in physical activity. The first presentation in this symposium will present data from a series of human-operant studies demonstrating the effects of variables (e.g., differential reinforcement parameters) on response allocation and will discuss the implications of these basic findings for arrangements in applied settings. The second presentation will provide a systematic review of the choice-based intervention literature from the last 15 years and show clinical data to demonstrate the effects of concurrent-operant arrangements for treating challenging behavior. The third presentation will present a study investigating contingency management and noncontingent reinforcement on adults' allocation of time to physical activity. Together, these talks will show the benefits of bidirectional translational research on the use of concurrent-operant arrangements to help understand and refine choice-based interventions for socially significant problems.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): choice, concurrent-operants, healthy choices, response allocation
Target Audience:

The target audience for this symposium is behavior analysts who are researchers or practitioners and are interested in using concurrent-operant choice interventions in applied settings.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe how choice-based behavior goals are relevant to many environments in which behavior analysts work; (2) describe how reinforcement parameters affect response allocation when multiple response options are available (i.e., concurrent-operant situations); (3) summarize the components of at least one research-supported intervention for affecting choice in the promotion of physical activity or treatment of severe problem behavior.
Determinents of Choice in a Concurrent-Operants Arrangement
(Basic Research)
KATHRYN M. KESTNER (West Virginia University), Cody McPhail (West Virginia University), Jennifer M Owsiany (West Virginia University), Kacey Renee Finch (West Virginia University )
Abstract: Translational research using human-operant arrangements provides an effective method for studying outcomes of variable manipulations on human behavior. Many goals in applied behavior analysis are directly related to changing the environment to shift response allocation—or in other words—to affect the choices of our clients and participants. We will present data from a series of human-operant studies that model concurrently available response options. We will discuss the data in terms of the way different variables affect response allocation, and we will present data showing the patterns of resurgence observed during relapse probes. We will discuss how these findings may be translated to applied interventions such as those aimed toward promoting health-related choices (e.g., engagement in physical activity, healthy eating), treating severe problem behavior, increasing appropriate alternative behavior (e.g., requests, compliance, and social overtures), as well as the implications for the sustainability of behavior-change affected by choice-based interventions.
The State of the Literature: Concurrent-Operant Arrangments as Behavioral Interventions
(Applied Research)
KACEY RENEE FINCH (West Virginia University ), Rebecca Kolb (Western Michigan University), Kathryn M. Kestner (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Concurrent-operant arrangements are becoming an increasingly popular intervention method in clinical and educational settings. First, we will present a systematic review of the trends in the applied choice literature published in peer-reviewed journals in the last 15 years. Then, we will present data from clinical cases to demonstrate the application of concurrent-operant arrangements as an intervention for decreasing challenging behavior and shifting response allocation to multiple other alternatives (e.g., task completion, communication). We will identify the current "best practice" recommendations based on the literature and recommend areas for future investigations.
Promoting Healthy Choices: Using Technology and Contingency Management for Physical Activity
(Applied Research)
JENNIFER M OWSIANY (West Virginia University), Kathryn M. Kestner (West Virginia University), Kacey Finch (West Virginia University)
Abstract: It is widely acknowledged that physically inactive adults are at a greater risk of developing noncommunicable diseases (e.g., stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes) and premature death compared to their physically active peers. Consequently, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Despite prominent public-health dissemination of this information by organizations such as the World Health Organization, physical inactivity in adults is common. Competing contingencies likely contribute to even well-meaning adults failing to meet activity recommendations. With response allocation at the center of this problem, behavioral interventions are a promising idea for promoting increased engagement in healthy behavior. In the current study, we randomly assigned participants to one of three groups (i.e., contingency management, noncontingent reinforcement, or self-monitoring). Participants wore Fitbit® Alta HR fitness trackers, which provided data on various indicators of increased physical activity, such as calorie burn, steps, and active minutes. We will discuss the results of this investigation and recommendations for future research and potential avenues for public health initiatives informed by choice technology.



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