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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #168
Current Research on Aversive Control
Sunday, May 27, 2007
10:00 AM–11:20 AM
Madeleine AB
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Cynthia J. Pietras (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Four presenters will discuss recent research on aversive control in humans and nonhumans. Of these presenters, two will discuss recent research on negative punishment, one using humans and another using pigeons as participants. A third presenter will discuss the effects of a percentile reinforcement schedule on negatively reinforced responding in humans. The fourth presenter will show data on the effectiveness of skin-shock treatment for reducing the dangerous behaviors of individuals with developmental disabilities. Together, these papers advance our current knowledge of aversive control techniques. Moreover, they highlight the utility of investigating aversive control across a variety of species and settings.
Effectiveness of Skin Shock Punishment in an Applied Treatment Setting.
MATTHEW L. ISRAEL (Judge Rotenberg Educational Center)
Abstract: Data will be presented for over 70 different students at the Judge Rotenberg Center who had skin shock punishment added to a treatment program package based on positive and non-aversive elements in their programs. Intensive, positive-only programming, was tried for an average of 11 months before the decision was made to seek parental and court approval to supplement the treatment program with contingent skin shock. The behaviors treated included aggressive and health dangerous behaviors The punishment component was added at differing times for each student and for each category of behavior over the course of a 3 period in an AB design. Data were compiled across all students and all behaviors. Data will be presented for each student for the period before and after the intervention and the success rate, using a 90% decreased criteria, will be compared to the published literature on positive-only programming.
Response-Cost Punishment: Token Loss as an Aversive Event with Pigeons.
TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (University of Florida), Bethany R. Raiff (University of Florida), Christopher E. Bullock (University of Florida)
Abstract: Four pigeons responded on a two-component multiple token reinforcement schedule, in which tokens were produced according to a random-interval 30 s schedule and exchanged according to a variable-ratio 4 schedule in both components. To assess the effects of contingent token loss, tokens were removed after every second response (i.e., fixed-ratio 2 loss) in one of the components. Response rates were selectively lower in the loss components relative to baseline (no-loss) conditions, as well as to the within-condition no-loss components. Additional conditions were conducted in which token and food density were yoked to those in a previous loss condition. In the Yoked-Food condition, tokens were produced as usual in both components, but the overall density of food reinforcement in one of the components was yoked to that obtained during a previous Token Loss condition. In the Yoked-Loss condition, tokens were removed during one component of the multiple schedule at a rate that approximately matched the obtained rate of loss from a previous Token-Loss condition. Response rates in these yoked components were less affected than those in comparable loss components. On the whole, the results support the conclusion that contingent token loss serves as an effective punisher with pigeons.
Contingent versus Noncontingent Negative Punishment in Humans.
ANDREW E BRANDT (Western Michigan University), Cynthia J. Pietras (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Time-out punishment is the response-contingent removal of access to positive reinforcement. Time-out has been shown to be effective in humans and nonhumans. When access to positive reinforcement is removed during time-out, net reinforcement rates decrease. The decreased reinforcement rate may also decrease response rates. The present studies are designed to investigate the separate effects of the punishment contingency and the reduced reinforcement rate on punished responding in adult humans. Button pushing was maintained on a three-component multiple schedule. In all components (signaled), responding produced monetary reinforcers according to a random-interval schedule. In one component (no-punishment), responding produced only monetary reinforcers on a random-interval schedule. In a second component (punishment), responding also produced time-outs according to a random-interval schedule. In a third component (yoked punishment), response-independent time-outs were delivered at the same temporal intervals that they were produced in the punishment component. The punishment schedule value was varied across conditions. The results showed that responding decreased as the punishment schedule value decreased. Similar rates of responding were typically observed in the punishment and yoked punishment components, which suggests that decreased net reinforcement rates had a suppressive effect on responding. However, this effect was likely due adventitious punishment.
Escape from Disruption of A/V Stimulus Presentations: Percentile Reinforcement of Long Interresponse Times in Humans.
ERIC A. JACOBS (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Jose L. Martinez (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: In three experiments, participants were exposed to a percentile schedule that differentially reinforced relatively long interresponse times (IRTs). Control by the IRT-based contingency opposed control by maximization of overall reinforcement rate. In Experiment 1, college students participated in three 90-minute sessions in which they watched movies that were subject to brief, random disruption. Lever pressing produced disruption-free viewing periods. In the first two sessions, disruption-free periods occurred following any IRT that was longer than 16 of the previous 20 IRTs. In the third session, disruption-free periods were arranged by a random-ratio schedule for the first half of the session, followed by a return to the percentile schedule. In Experiment 2, the procedure was the same, except the lever light began flashing when the percentile schedule time requirement was fulfilled. In Experiment 3, the procedure was again the same as in Experiment 1, except some participants received an instruction describing the IRT contingency and some participants received an instruction describing the molar relationship between response rate and reinforcement rate. Overall, the results provide evidence for control by consequences arrayed over short and long time spans, individual differences in sensitivity to each, and a role for reinforcement history in determining those differences. Moreover, there was evidence that sensitivity to the contingencies was strongly modulated by discriminative stimuli and instructions.



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