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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #19
Can Surveys Predict Behavior?
Saturday, May 27, 2006
1:00 PM–2:20 PM
Area: TPC; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Chris S. Dula (East Tennessee State University)
Discussant: E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: This symposium explores the ability of several diverse surveys to predict behavior. Although much survey research purports to predict behavior, much of it relies on participants’ self-reports and/or behavioral intentions. In contrast, each of the three studies presented here examines survey data as it relates to direct behavioral outcomes. The first paper examines the behavioral predictability of an intervention that measures the five most popular personality traits in contemporary psychology: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion/introversion, agreeableness/sociability, and emotionality. In the second paper, the connection between decision-making behavior and the construct of psychological entitlement is examined in both a laboratory and real-world setting. For the third presentation, the ability to predict alcohol consumption by college students using measures of social anxiety, alcohol expectancies, and self efficacy to refuse a drink will be discussed. E. Scott Geller will discuss the practical significance of the results with regard to applied behavior analysis and intervention design. He will attempt to make a case for “humanistic behaviorism,” and explain how valid surveys can c0ontribute to this approach to behavior-based intervention.
Can the “Big 5” Personality Traits Predict Behavior of College Students?
PHILIP K. LEHMAN (Virginia Tech), Aaron Vollmer (Virginia Tech), Elise A. Drake (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: Many personality theorists contend there are five traits which account for the most critical individual differences in personality: (a) openness to experience, (b) conscientiousness, (c) extraversion/introversion, (d) agreeableness/sociability, and (e) emotionality. Ostensibly, these traits influence behaviors, but research examining the relationship between personality measures usually relies on self-reported behavior. To address this weakness, we administered an inventory measuring each of the Big 5 personality traits to two large introductory psychology classes (n = 840). Over the course of the semester, analyses explored relationships between the five traits and behaviors. Preliminary analyses revealed a small, but significant relationship between openness to experience and test performance (r = .18, p < .01), and an expected relationship between emotionality and the time in which students completed and turned in an exam. Those who turned in the exam with less than five minutes remaining in the class were significantly higher in emotionality than other students (F = 6.35, p < .05). Additional analyses will examine the predictive validity of the survey regarding other course-related behaviors, including class attendance, completion of extra-credit, and final course grades. Practical significance of the results will be discussed, with a behavioral perspective on “personality”.
Exploring the Relationship Between Psychological Entitlement and Behavior.
CHRISTOPHER DOWNING (Virginia Tech), Catherine C. Eckel (Virginia Tech), Philip K. Lehman (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: Psychological Entitlement is a stable and pervasive perception that one deserves more positive consequences than others. This personality characteristic has been linked to various personality traits and hypothetical situations. It has also been associated with specific behaviors. The current studies explored the predictive ability of the Psychological Entitlement Scale to forecast behaviors in laboratory and real world settings. In the first study, participants made decisions about the distribution of money. More specifically, the participants were randomly assigned the role of the “giver” or the “taker”. The giver was asked to allocate money to either themselves or an unknown taker, while the taker was asked to of predict how much money they thought they would receive from the giver. As hypothesized, the results showed that high entitled givers kept significantly more money than did givers low in entitlement. In addition, the takers’ high entitlement predicted the giver would keep more money. The second study examined whether the entitlement scale would predict students’ requests for extra credit in an introductory psychology class. The students in two classes (n = 840) took the psychological entitlement scale and subsequently their email requests for extra credit will be tracked throughout the semester.
Social Anxiety, Alcohol Expectancies, and Self-Efficacy as Predictors of Alcohol Consumption at Fraternity Parties.
IAN J. EHRHART (Virginia Tech), Kent E. Glindemann (Virginia Tech), E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: Wechsler and colleagues (2000) reported that 44% of college students in 1999 were classified as binge drinkers (defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a sitting for men and four or more drinks in a sitting for women), with 24% classified as frequent binge drinkers. This paper explores one possible reason for elevated alcohol consumption within this population. Specifically, feelings of insecurity/anxiety in social situations (i.e., social anxiety), like a fraternity party, activate expectancies that alcohol can ameliorate these symptoms, increasing alcohol consumption. This relationship may be further moderated by one’s perceived self-efficacy to refuse a drink. Data were collected at seven fraternity parties, with 89 participants completing survey assessments and having their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) assessed at the end of the party. The dependent variable was BAC, the direct outcome of drinking behavior. Using stepwise multiple regression, it was found that, among a group of high socially anxious participants (n = 26), social anxiety level (Step 1) and alcohol expectancies (Step 2) accounted for 76.0% of the variance in BAC. This presentation will explore how the personality assessment results of this research could inform the design of interventions to reduce alcohol consumption among college students.



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