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 #374
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Economic Applications in Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 29, 2006
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Centennial Ballroom IV
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Johns Hopkins University)
Discussant: Steven R. Hursh (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine & SAIC)
CE Instructor: Iser Guillermo DeLeon, Ph.D.

In behavioral economics, reinforcement contingencies are viewed as transactions in which work (responding/behavior) is exchanged for a commodity (a reinforcer or stimulus). Overall consumption of a commodity is determined as a function of its price (work or response requirements), often in relation to the availability and price of concurrently available commodities that vary with respect to the degree to which they substitute for the first. Investigators have recently begun to explore behavioral economic relations in the response allocation of individuals with developmental disabilities, most notably with the aim of interpreting responding under various experimental constraints related to enhancing habilitative efforts. The present symposium will further discuss ongoing research in translating behavioral economic theory into practical application for individuals with developmental disabilities. Collectively, the presentations will examine (a) the relation between relative stimulus preference and demand and response output functions; (b) consumption of various reinforcers examined through demand and work functions derived from progressive-ratio schedules; (c) and the influence of unit price on response output in the context of treating problem behavior.

Demand and Response Output Functions for High and Low Preference Stimuli.
WILLIAM H. AHEARN (New England Center for Children), Kathleen M. Clark (New England Center for Children), Kacie Burregi (New England Center for Children), William V. Dube (University of Massachusetts Medical School, E.K. Shriver Center)
Abstract: Behavioral economics views behavior as a transaction between the supply of a functional consequence and the demand for it whereby the amount of reinforcer accessed is analyzed with respect to the responding that was emitted for that access. Demand and response output functions are generated by exposing behavior to varying contingencies for access to a specific reinforcer. This presentation will describe the demand and response output functions obtained for commodities identified as either high or low preference during paired stimulus preference assessment. A discussion of the preference assessment procedures will follow presentation of the results of the study. Steady state responding was obtained with several variable ratio schedules (from VR6 up to a maximum of VR45) for access to both high and low preference commodities. A progressive ratio (PR) exposure to the same schedule values was conducted after the maximum VR schedule was completed for each item. Demand and response output functions are presented for each of these analyses. Generally, demand and response output functions were systematic with responding for the high preference item occurring at higher levels relative to the lower preference item. Results were not always systematic for the PR exposures to the same schedule values.
The Utility of Progressive Ratio Schedules to Determine Reinforcer Value: An Economic Analysis.
HENRY S. ROANE (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University School of Medicine), Ashley C. Glover (Marcus Autism Center), Michael E. Kelley (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University), Robert-Ryan S. Pabico (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Progressive ratio (PR) schedules allow for the examination of responding under multiple schedule values that increase throughout the course of a single experimental observation. As such, PR schedules provide a method for briefly determining the relative value of a reinforcer. Despite this utility, relatively few studies have examined the usefulness of PR schedules in applied setting. In this presentation, sample data will be presented in which PR schedules were used to evaluate the relative value of reinforcers for individuals with developmental disabilities. Specifically, data will be presented in which PR schedules were used to evaluate the efficacy of different reinforcers when (a) the reinforcers were presented in a single- or concurrent-operant arrangement, and (b) different magnitudes of similar reinforcers are presented under PR schedules. Responding for and consumption of various reinforcers will be presented by examining demand and work functions. Results will be discussed in terms of procedural differences that might affect responding for reinforcers under PR schedules.
Applying the Concept of Unit Price to Severe Problem Behavior: A Descriptive Analysis.
JOHN C. BORRERO (University of the Pacific), Monica T. Francisco (University of the Pacific), Alayna T. Haberlin (University of the Pacific), Noel A. Ross (University of the Pacific), Sandeep K. Sran (University of the Pacific), Jamie Bartels (University of the Pacific)
Abstract: We evaluated behavior exhibited by several individuals with developmental disabilities using the behavioral economic conceptualization of unit price. Descriptive observations were conducted during interactions between the participants and their primary care providers in a clinical laboratory environment, the participants’ home or school. Data were recorded on potential reinforcers and problem behavior. After identifying reinforcers for each participant’s problem behavior by way of functional analysis, the descriptive data were analyzed retrospectively, using the concept of unit price. Results showed that in some, but not all cases, overall response output decreased, when unit price increased. The results represent an extension of the concept of unit price to severe problem behavior under naturally occurring environmental conditions.



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