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 #386
Negative Reinforcement: Some Lessons from Animal Training
Monday, May 29, 2006
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Area: PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michelle Lamancusa (University of North Texas)
Discussant: T. V. Joe Layng (Headsprout)
Abstract: This symposium describe three experimental analyses of the effects of using negative reinforcement during training. The first experiment shows some detrimental effects in dog’s behavior due to training that combined positive and negative reinforcement. This was compared to the effects of training using only differential positive reinforcement. The second experiment shows the effects of shaping cow’s approaches to humans by first using differential negative reinforcement of alternative behavior and second, by shifting the negative reinforcement contingency to positive reinforcement. The third experiment shows the effects of differential reinforcement of alternative behaviors on the aggressive behaviors of several dogs. All the papers discuss the uses, appropriateness or inappropriateness, and effectiveness of negative reinforcement contingencies during training. The operant components of behavior classified as emotional are also discussed within the context of negative reinforcement.
Some Detrimental Effects of Combining Positive and Negative Reinforcement During Training.
NICOLE BYRD (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Karen Pryor suggests that a cue, or SD, established with a combination of negative and positive reinforcement leads to the breakdown of the behavior both preceding and following the cue due to an increase in avoidance behaviors and the uncertainty that exists in terms of the consequence that will follow. The purpose of this presentation is to compare the effects of combining negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement during training with the effects of using positive reinforcement alone. Two dogs served as subjects. Each dog learned the same behavior under two different stimulus conditions associated with two different training methods. One method involved the presentation of the cue “ven”, and the reinforcement of successive approximations to the target behavior. The other method involved the presentation of the cue “punir,” the physical prompting of the target behavior by pulling the leash, and the delivery of a reinforcer. Differences in the behavior between the two conditions are documented, as well as differences in the stimulus functions of “ven” and “punir.”
Transition from Negative to Positive Reinforcement during Shaping Cow’s Approach to Humans.
MELISSA MOREHEAD (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Negative reinforcement can be a powerful tool for behavior analysts, yet it is often overlooked as a treatment method. Pryor (1999) outlines a method for approaching a “timid” animal using a combination of negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement. When the animal stands still, the human operates a clicker, and then retreats from the animal. Gradually, the human moves closer to the animal through the clicking and retreating shaping process. Once the human is standing close enough, food may be offered as a positive reinforcer, and the negative reinforcer is canceled out. The purpose of this study was to experimentally demonstrate the click-retreat technique with cows. A multiple-baseline design across subjects was used to test this technique. Results show that the click and retreat technique was effective. Results are discussed in terms of the difference between the click-retreat technique and systematic desensitization.
Aggression in Dogs: A Differential Negative Reinforcement Protocol.
KELLIE S. SNIDER (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Aggression in dogs is a serious problem in the United States, with over 4,700,000 people bitten annually, and over 800,000 requiring medical treatment (K. Delise, 2002). Common aggressive behaviors seen in dogs include barking, chasing, lunging, snarling, growling and biting. Many such behaviors are maintained by the removal or distancing of other people or dogs. The training protocol presented shows the effects of differential negative reinforcement on aggressive behavior of dogs. Aggressive dogs were tethered on 6 foot leashes. An experimenter walked toward the dog until the dog performed an aggressive behavior. She stood still until the behaviors stopped, then walked away contingent upon a desirable behavior such as looking toward the owner, or turning away from the experimenter. In subsequent approaches the experimenter stopped walking toward the dog before the point at which the dog had previously performed the behavior, and exited based on performance of a desirable behavior. Proximity was systematically increased. If at any time the approach provoked aggressive behavior, the experimenter stopped and waited until the behavior ended before exiting. The aggressive behaviors diminished or were eliminated with as little as 1 hr. of treatment with some dogs. Successful generalization occurred in several cases.



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