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 #449
CE Offered: BACB
Current Research on Preference Assessment
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Centennial Ballroom IV
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Wayne W. Fisher (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
CE Instructor: Louis P. Hagopian, Ph.D.

Research on and the development of new preference assessment procedures has advanced rapidly over the past decade. In this symposium, presenters will describe research examining procedures designed to identify preferred activities and stimuli of individuals with developmental disabilities. The first presenter will describe research comparing an engagement-based and an approach-based multiple stimulus preference assessment procedure. Next, research examining how stimulus access time can affect outcomes of a multiple stimulus preference assessment will be presented. The third presenter will discuss research examining the use of picture stimuli and videotaped presentation of the selected activity. The Discussant will offer commentary on these studies and the larger body of research on preference assessment.

A Comparison of Approach and Duration Stimulus Preference Assessment Procedures.
TIFFANY KODAK (Marcus Autism Center), Wayne W. Fisher (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Mike Kelly (Marcus Autism Center), Catherine Trapani (Marcus Autism Center), April N. Kisamore (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Previous research has evaluated a variety of methods to identify stimuli that may function as reinforcers with individuals with developmental disabilities (Fisher et al., 1992). A multiple stimulus with replacement (MSW) preference assessment was developed to reduce the amount of time required to identify a rank order of preference for items (Windsor et al., 1994). Another method of rapidly identifying preference for stimuli involves a free operant (FO) procedure (Roane et al., 1998). Participants were provided with 5 minutes of free access to stimuli. Despite the variety of preference assessment procedures, it remains unclear whether one type of preference assessment procedure (i.e., approach or duration) will more accurately identify stimuli that will function as reinforcers. The present investigation compared the results of two preference assessment procedures, an MSW and a variation of the FO assessment. In the FO assessment, participants could interact a stimulus as long as they remained in the portion of the room allocated to the particular stimulus. Subsequent reinforcer assessments evaluated the item identified as most preferred in each preference assessment procedure. Results indicated that the two assessment procedures identified different stimuli as most highly preferred. The reinforcer assessment indentified which stimulus was the most effective reinforcer.
Further Evaluation of Factors Affecting Preference Assessment Outcomes.
JODY M. STEINHILBER (New England Center for Children), Cammarie Johnson (New England Center for Children), Lisa Tereshko (New England Center for Children), Julius Warindu (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Preference given selection- and duration-based measures was evaluated with 2 different types of MSWO preference assessments. In one MSWO condition (short), access to selected items was available for a brief duration (15 s); in the other MSWO condition (long), access to selected items was available for up to 15 min. Seven sessions of each condition were conducted using a multi-element design for 5 participants diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and/or mental retardation. Assessment results identified a different high preference item in long (LHP) and short conditions (SHP) for 3 of 5 participants when rank order was determined by duration measures in the long condition, and 1 of 5 participants when selection measures were compared in the 2 assessment formats. Interobserver agreement data were collected in at least 25% of sessions and agreement was consistently above 90%. Results are discussed in terms of stimulus parameters that may affect preference and possible clinical implications and applications.
Evaluation of a Video-Based Procedure for Conducting Preference Assessments.
PAMELA L. NEIDERT (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: Results of previous research on the assessment of preference indicate that clear preferences often do not emerge unless differential consequences (i.e., access to activity) are arranged for selection responses. Thus, preference assessments typically involve presentation of the actual stimuli of interest (food or leisure items). This practice may be difficult or time consuming, however, when assessing preference for certain types of events (e.g., going to the movies), and the purpose of this study was to examine the viability of an alternative arrangement that might improve the efficiency of assessment. We determined whether differential preference can be observed when stimulus (picture) selection resulted in access to watching a videotaped segment of the selected activity rather than access to the actual activity. Participants included individuals with developmental disabilities for whom a preference assessment was needed. Results indicated that preferences sometimes emerged under the video condition and that the duration of the video assessment was much shorter than the duration of the assessment in which access to the actual activity was provided.



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