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 #165
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Science Board Translational Series: History and current status of translational research in behavioral economics
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 226 AB
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England College)
Discussant: Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England College)
CE Instructor: Laura Kenneally, Ed.D.
Abstract: Basic and applied research interdependence has always been a hallmark of the field of behavior analysis. The continuance of this interdependence is important because it increases the odds that basic research will be relevant and applied research will be effective. Translational researchers may be considered the mediators of this relationship, with one foot firmly planted on the ground in basic area and the other firmly planted in the applied area. This symposium will provide an opportunity for three leading translational researchers to highlight some important conceptual and empirical developments in the rich translational area of behavioral economics, which is a subfield of behavior analysis in which the principles of microeconomics are used to understand responding in both experimentally-controlled and ecologically-valid conditions.
Behavioral economics in the clinic: Translational research on substitutability, demand, and unit price in the treatment of behavior disorders
ISER GUILLERMO DELEON (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michelle A. Frank (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Mandy M. Triggs (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Abbey Carreau (Kennedy Krieger Institutue), Meagan Gregory (University of Florida), Melissa J. Allman (Kennedy Krieger Institute/Hopkins)
Abstract: Behavior analysts have increasingly applied economic concepts towards understanding issues of social significance in areas such as consumer choice, gambling, and substance abuse. We present a translational progression of studies that apply economic concepts in work with individuals with developmental disabilities, culminating in demonstrations of their implications for the treatment of behavior disorders. Initial laboratory investigations revealed greater elasticity of demand given unit price increases when available alternatives were functionally similar (i.e., functionally similar alternatives were more substitutable). In subsequent clinical studies, this general theme was extended towards: (a) examining the benefits of considering relative substitutability when arranging interventions for behavior disorders, and (b) examining how the analyses required to identify these relations can be made practical and practicable in applied settings.
Preliminary analyses of price manipulations: Commodity type and cost-benefit constituents
JOHN C. BORRERO (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Christopher E. Bullock (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Michelle A. Frank (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Nicole Lynn Hausman (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Basic behavior analysts, and more recently applied behavior analysts, have recognized that constructs from traditional economic research may inform, and in some cases, improve upon characterizations of “stimulus value.” This has been accomplished by an elegant synthesis between economic principles and behavior analytic methods. In this presentation, preliminary data from a human operant laboratory will be reported. One goal of this research was to determine the extent to which college students would respond in accord with prevailing price manipulations in a three choice (concurrent) schedule arrangement (i.e., selecting the alternative with the lowest price). A second goal of this research was to determine whether differential responding could be detected as a function of commodity type (video segments vs. points). A final goal of this research was to determine whether differential responding could be detected based on how cost and benefit constituents were progressively altered (in one case cost increased, while the benefit component remained fixed, in the other case, cost was fixed, while the benefit component decreased). Results will be discussed in terms of the implications of unit price and related to relevant applied literature.
Behavioral economics in the lab: Delay discounting, drug taking, and pathological gambling
GREGORY J. MADDEN (University of Kansas), Adam T. Brewer (University of Kansas), Patrick S. Johnson (University of Kansas), Jonathan W. Pinkston (University of Kansas), James H. Woods (University of Michigan)
Abstract: Economists have long studied how behavioral consequences lose their value as they are delivered after longer and longer delays; a process referred to as “delay discounting.” While economists took a top-down, rational-choice approach to discounting, behavioral scientists took a bottom-up, inductive approach to the topic. The result of the latter is the discovery of regularities in delay discounting which may be observed across a number of species (including humans). The quantitative particulars of this seemingly universal discounting process will be explained in an easy-to-follow fashion. Next, we will outline empirical findings (some of them from our lab) suggesting nature, nurture, and pharmacological factors affect delay discounting. Finally, we will summarize how these factors may pre-dispose (or simply dispose) individuals toward drug-taking and gambling.



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