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 #359
Advances in Functional Analysis Research
Monday, May 28, 2007
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Ford AB
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: April S. Worsdell (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Although experimental functional analysis methods are commonly used in behavior analytic research, many questions remain as to the procedural nuances that may influence functional analysis outcomes. The purpose of this symposium will be to examine various refinements to functional analysis methodology that may aid in clarifying ambiguous assessment results. Three data-based presentations will be made in which functional analyses of challenging behavior were conducted with individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. The first presentation will evaluate the role of caregiver behavior as a motivating operation during functional analyses. The second presentation will examine the effects of response blocking during functional analyses. During the third presentation, correspondence between the outcomes of functional analyses of challenging behaviors and precursor behaviors will be compared. Finally, in the fourth presentation, a method for training basic functional analysis skills will be evaluated. Collectively, these data sets will add to the current knowledge base on strategies for: (a) designing functional analysis procedures, and (b) training novices in the implementation of functional analysis sessions.
Effectiveness of an Instructional DVD in Training Undergraduates to Implement Functional Analyses.
MARANDA TRAHAN (Southern Illinois University), April S. Worsdell (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Empirically validated functional analysis training tools are relatively sparse in the behavior analytic literature. In this study, we examined the effectiveness of an instructional DVD in training college students to implement experimental functional analyses. Ten upper-level undergraduates with minimal knowledge of functional analysis methodology participated. Session scripts were developed to simulate five commonly used functional analysis conditions. During baseline, participants were given the methods section of a published experiment to review, and they were asked to act as the “therapist” during sessions in which the experimenter posed as the “client.” The intervention phase involved giving participants an instructional DVD, an informational pamphlet, and a quiz. Additional feedback and role playing also were provided in some cases to reach the 90% accuracy criterion. Results showed that the DVD was effective in increasing all participants’ correct implementation of prescribed antecedents and consequences during functional analyses. These results suggest that an instructional video can be a useful training tool for providing basic skills in conducting complex behavioral assessments.
Caregiver Behavior as a Motivating Operation for Problem Behavior during Functional Analyses.
SAMANTHA HARDESTY (Kennedy Krieger Institute), David E. Kuhn (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Kevin C. Luczynski (University of Kansas)
Abstract: When initial attempts to identify behavioral function under analog conditions fail, modifications to the analyses may be necessary to capture the conditions maintaining the behavior(s) in the natural environment; most commonly, the dimensions of the reinforcer (e.g., quality or quantity) (Richman & Hagopian, 1999). However, the value of the reinforcer may also fluctuate based on antecedent events, including the behavior of others. For example, Bruzak & Thompson (in press) found that the value of toys increased when children observed peers engaging with those items. Within the current study, we examined the effects of caregiver behavior on problem behavior maintained by access to attention, toys and edibles in two individuals (a 9 year-old male and a 32 year-old female) diagnosed with developmental disabilities. Each modified condition was compared to the corresponding experimental condition described by Iwata et al. (1982/1994). For each analysis, the participant’s problem behavior increased as a function of the therapist’s behavior while holding all dimensions of the reinforcer constant. We hypothesized that under these conditions, caregiver behavior functioned as a motivating operation (Laraway, Snycerski, Michael, & Poling, 2003). Interobserver agreement (IOA) data were collected for at least 33% sessions and averaged above 80% for all responses.
Identification of Precursor Behavior for Use in Functional Analyses.
BRANDON HERSCOVITCH (New England Center for Children), Myrna Libby (New England Center for Children), Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: One extension of functional analysis methodology involves providing consequences for a precursor behavior rather than for a severe target behavior. Evaluating whether outcomes from a precursor FA are similar to those obtained from an FA of the target behavior is important because some target responses are so severe they cannot be permitted to occur. Previous research has shown that functional analyses of precursor behavior resulted in similar outcomes to those obtained from a functional analysis of the target behavior (Smith and Churchill, 2002). However, no study to date has reported an empirically-based method for identifying precursor behavior for use during functional analyses. In the current study, such a method was developed, combining the use of indirect and descriptive assessment procedures, for two individuals diagnosed with autism. Based on the results, functional analyses were conducted for the target behavior and for the behavior identified as a reliable precursor. Results showed correspondence between functional analyses of target and precursor behavior.
The Effects of Blocking during Experimental Analyses of Aggressive Behavior.
HEATHER JENNETT (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Eric Boelter (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Blocking is a commonly used treatment component for reducing dangerous or inappropriate behavior, such as pica or stereotypy, displayed by individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g., Reid, Parsons, Phillips, & Green, 1993). However, in some cases, blocking may have adverse side effects, such as increasing aggression (Hagopian & Adelinis, 2001). In cases where blocking does lead to increased aggression, there maybe little to no responding in a standard functional analysis (Iwata et al., 1994) where blocking is not one of the variables manipulated. In this presentation, four cases will be presented in which experimental analyses were conducted to examine the role of blocking on aggressive behavior. Treatment data, with a focus on altering relevant establishing operations, will also be presented.



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