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 #362
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Research on Establishing Operation Manipulations
Monday, May 29, 2006
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Centennial Ballroom IV
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Henry S. Roane (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University School of Medicine)
Discussant: F. Charles Mace (University of Southern Maine)
CE Instructor: Henry S. Roane, Ph.D.

In the past 20 years, a number of applied investigations have examined the relative influence of motivational variables on responding during reinforcement-based programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. One category of such variables that has been the subject of considerable research is establishing operations (EOs). An EO is an environmental event that has two effects on behavior: (a) it changes (increases or decreases) motivation for a particular reinforcer; and (b) it changes (increases or decreases) the probability of responses that have produced that reinforcer in the past. The present symposium will focus on three recent areas of research in which EOs have been used to influence appropriate behavior. Collectively, these studies will examine (a) the establishment and termination of reflexive conditioned EOs, (b) the modification of reflexive conditioned EOs to increase in-seat behavior, and (c) the effects of peer observations on item preferences.

Basic and Applied Analyses of Reflexive Conditioned Establishing Operations.
MICHAEL E. KELLEY (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University School of Medicine), Joanna Lomas (Marcus Autism Center), Robert-Ryan S. Pabico (Marcus Autism Center), Michael J. Schafer (Marcus Autism Center), Karen Myers (Marcus Autism Center), Henry S. Roane (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Results of previous research have shown that establishing operation manipulations can influence responding during assessments of preference (e.g., Gottschalk, Libby, & Graff, 2000; Zhou, Iwata, & Shore, 2002), assessment of problem behavior (e.g., Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1994), assessment of reinforcement efficacy (e.g., Vollmer & Iwata, 1991), and treatment (e.g., Mace & Lalli, 1991). However, the influence of conditioned establishing operations (CEO) on responding has not been well evaluated in the literature (McGill, 1999; Michael, 2000). In the current study, we evaluated the extent to which (1) CEO relations may be generated and terminated and (2) applied treatments may be enhanced as a result of the identification and/or manipulation of CEOs. Thus, the purpose of Experiments 1 was to demonstrate a methodology to both establish and extinguish reflexive CEO relations in a basic arrangement. The purpose of Experiment 2 was to provide an applied example of a reflexive CEO relation and demonstrate its potential for enhancing assessment and treatment development.
Manipulating Reflexive Conditioned Establishing Operations with Young Children with PDD.
M. ALICE SHILLINGSBURG (Marcus Autism Center), Steven Shapiro (Auburn University)
Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated the effects of manipulating establishing operations (EO) on the effectiveness of items as reinforcement (e.g., Vollmer & Iwata, 1991), preferences for tangible items (e.g., McAdam et al., 2005), and problem behavior (e.g., McComas, Thompson, &Johnson, 2003). Much research on EO has focused on deprivation and satiation effects, whereas little research has been conducted on the manipulation of conditioned EO (CEO), such as surrogate, transitive, and reflexive CEO. We examined the effects of manipulating reflexive CEO on in-seat behavior during instructional tasks. In phase 1, two children diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) were administered tasks during 10-min demand sessions. In phase 2, one therapist removed demands and paired the teaching environment with the participant’s preferred activities while a second therapist continued to conduct demand sessions. In phase 3, both therapists conducted demand sessions. Results indicated that (1) in-seat behavior during demands was higher and aberrant behavior was lower following pairing and (2) pairing the teaching environment with the child’s preferred activities established interacting with the therapist as reinforcement and evoked behaviors that prolonged that interaction. Results are discussed in terms of the benefits of manipulating reflexive EO prior to demand presentation.
Peer Observations as an Establishing Operation for Preschool Play Materials.
JENNIFER LYNNE BRUZEK (University of Kansas), Rachel H. Thompson (University of Kansas)
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of peer observations on the reinforcing value of toys among preschoolers. A 10-item paired choice preference assessment was conducted to identify a preference hierarchy. Based on the results of that assessment, a reinforcer assessment was conducted wherein the most highly preferred item and the least preferred item were presented along with a control (no item) to test the relative reinforcing effects of those stimuli. Data collectors recorded the frequency or duration of the target response and interobserver agreement was assessed during a minimum of 30% of all sessions with a mean agreement of above 85% for all participants. During baseline, no peer observation was conducted, and participants responded consistently for the high-preference item. Participants then observed a peer playing with one of the items for 2 min prior to each reinforcer assessment session. During the peer observation phases, the participants consistently responded for access to the toy manipulated by the peer during pre-session observation, independent of initial preference for that item. These data suggest that preschooler preferences may be, in part, a result of peer observation.



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