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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #272
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advances in Self-Control Research
Sunday, May 24, 2009
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
North 228
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada)
Discussant: Rachel S. F. Tarbox (Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Ang)
CE Instructor: John T. Rapp, Ph.D.
Abstract: Three papers will be presented that discuss areas of research in self-control and impulsivity that take a different perspective than traditional studies of self-control. The papers range from basic research, to applied and clinical perspectives.
Negative Reinforcement and Self-Control in Adult Humans
ALICIA N. MACALEESE (Advanced Child Behavior Solutions, LLC), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada)
Abstract: Typical self-control experiments involve conditioned positive reinforcers such as points or money for humans, and unconditioned positive reinforcers such as food for nonhuman organisms. The standard preparation involves manipulating the magnitude (small vs. large) and/or delay (short vs. long) to the reinforcer. Unlike the impulsive responding observed in nonhuman organisms (selecting the shorter, smaller reinforcer), humans almost always respond in a self-controlled fashion (selecting the larger, longer reinforcer). The self-control observed in humans might be due to the type of reinforcer. The current experiment examines how a negative reinforcer (noise) affected self-control in adult humans. The first experiment establishes the reliability of previous findings in self-control using a negative reinforcement preparation. The second experiment focuses on the magnitude of the negative reinforcer by systematically varying its intensity. The third experiment examines the effects on responding when the preferred activity is varied and the magnitude of the negative reinforcer remains constant.
Reducing Task-related Problem Behavior in Young Children by Teaching Self-control
JENNIFER A. BONOW (University of Nevada, Reno), Christine M. Coffman (University of Nevada Reno), Jessica Beairsto (University of Nevada, Reno), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada)
Abstract: There is potential that teaching children to make self-control responses in the presence of aversive events may lead to decreased occurrences of problem behavior related to those events. For many children, engaging in problem behavior may function to delay or avoid a task altogether. In doing so, the child is making an impulsive response, while completing the task initially would be considered a self-control response. This study assessed self-control in children who demonstrated escape-maintained problem behaviors and then taught them to make self-control selections in the presence of aversive tasks. The tasks selected were analogues of those which often preceded problem behavior in the natural environment. Self-control was reassessed at the end of the teaching phase. Also, parents conducted generalization probes in the home throughout the study.
The Relationship between Self Control and Measures of Psychological Health and Distress
THOMAS J. WALTZ (University of Nevada, Reno), William C. Follette (University of Nevada Reno)
Abstract: Problems of impulsivity and shortsightedness have been linked to several clinical phenomena. The present study used several delay, probability, and social discounting repetitive choice assessments to characterize the impulsivity and shortsightedness of a college student sample. These subjects were also provided with a series of assessment instruments focusing on different aspects of quality of life, and psychological distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, social functioning). We will present the relationships among these measures and discuss the potential usefulness of using discounting assessments in clinical psychology.



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