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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Special Event #69a
SQAB 2006 Tutorial: Creating Artificial Behavior: A Tutorial on Modeling
Saturday, May 27, 2006
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
International Ballroom South
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: John E. R. Staddon (Duke University)
Presenting Authors: : A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Abstract: A model that generates good approximations to real behavior can help us see how behavior works. Both moment-to-moment features of behavior as shown in cumulative records and global input-output functions as derived from parametric studies of reinforcement schedules can be simulated by a variant of Skinner’s Reflex Reserve. Skinner’s model, in which reinforced responses added to a reserve depleted by later responding, could not handle the higher rates maintained by intermittent than by continuous reinforcement, but would have worked if not just the last but also earlier responses preceding a reinforcer, each weighted by a delay gradient, contributed to the reserve. With this modification, reinforcement schedules generate steady states in which reserve decrements produced by responding balance increments produced when reinforcers follow responding. Some recommendations about modeling follow from this example: (1) Be explicit about the terms, units and dimensions that enter into the model; (2) Study intermediate details of the simulation, not just end-products, but keep things simple by minimizing inferred entities; (3) Avoid transformations that distance behavior from contingencies or reduce absolute measures to relative ones; and, (4) Design the model so variables can be tinkered with much as experimenters tinker with them in the laboratory.
A. CHARLES CATANIA (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
A. Charles Catania began his career in behavior analysis in Fall 1954, when he enrolled in Fred Keller’s course in introductory psychology. That course included a weekly laboratory on the behavior of rats, and Catania continued working with rats and pigeons and other organisms over subsequent decades. In Spring 2004, having closed his pigeon laboratory the previous summer, he celebrated his half century of animal lab activity with a rat demonstration in an undergraduate learning course. During those decades, he had examined the behavior engendered and maintained by a variety of reinforcement schedules, with an abiding interest in relating schedule performances to fundamental behavioral processes such as the delay-of-reinforcement gradient. He was also increasingly impressed by the striking parallels between biological accounts of evolution in terms of Darwinian natural selection and behavior analytic accounts of operant behavior in terms of the selection of behavior by its consequences. He regards the refinement and extension of selectionist accounts as crucial prerequisites for analyses of our own behavior as behavior analysts, including the verbal and nonverbal behavior that enters into our construction of theories and models.



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