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 #475
CE Offered: BACB
Health, Sport, & Fitness: Innovations in Applied Behavior Analysis
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
12:00 PM–1:20 PM
Area: PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michael A. Kirkpatrick (Wesley College)
CE Instructor: Michael A. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

While the health, sport, and fitness fields are historically dominated by theoretical orientations derived from medicine and traditional educational practices, behavior analysts are driving empirical innovation. We report on four very distinct and potentially burgeoning areas: (a) empirically-derived, individually tailored exercise programs for chronic pain/fibromyalgia, (b) parent-supported weight reduction in down syndrome, (c) the effects of controlling contingencies on healthy eating, exercise and fitness behaviors, and (d) behavior following instructions to perform sport-related visual imagery. Despite broad differences in the content areas under study, these investigations together function to extend the application of behavior analysis into new domains in health, sport, and fitness.

Effects of Contrived, Extrinsic, and Controlling Contingencies on the Maintenance, Enjoyment, and Interest in Healthy Eating, Exercise and Fitness Behaviors.
STEPHEN RAY FLORA (Youngstown State University)
Abstract: Many fitness programs are successful in getting participants physically fit. However, after the program, most successful participants return to their pre-program fitness level or become even less fit. An untested, but theoretically possible reason for this is that contrived/controlling contingencies of the fitness program “undermine” the natural, “intrinsic,” reinforcers for becoming more physically fit. To test this possibility, participants entered a fitness program designed to maximize external/contrived/controlling contingencies for engaging in fitness behaviors. Specifically, following baseline measures, participants pinpointed exercise, diet, and lifestyle behaviors targeted for change. The behavior rates were graphed, publicly posted, and commitment statements and behavioral contracts were signed. Subjects earned money for themselves and charities for meeting behavior goals. Money went to disliked organizations for failure. Effects of the program on fitness, enjoyment and “intrinsic interest” in fitness behaviors were measured.
Parent-Supported Weight Reduction for Children with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.
RICHARD K. FLEMING (University of Massachusetts Medical School, E.K. Shriver Center), Carol Curtin (University of Massachusetts Medical School, E.K. Shriver Center), Linda Bandini (University of Massachusetts Medical School, E.K. Shriver Center), James Gleason (University of Massachusetts Medical School, E.K. Shriver Center), Elizabeth Jordan (Boston University)
Abstract: The prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 20 years, with 10-15% of all children now meeting these criteria. Research on weight-loss programs for the general pediatric population is underway, but little is being done for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This paper will describe a behavior analytic parent-supported weight reduction (PSWR) program for adolescents with I/DD. This research is supported by grants from the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund and the John Alden Trust Foundation. In addition to receiving individualized diet and activity prescriptions, and a standard nutrition/activity educational program, participants (parent-child dyads) are taught to apply behavioral procedures: monitoring, stimulus (environmental) control, goal-setting, contracting, reinforcement and feedback. Data will be presented on: 1) pre- and post- Body Mass Index (BMIz) scores; 2) pre- and post- accelerometer readings; 3) pre- and post- nutrition and activity knowledge; 4) integrity of participants’ use of behavioral procedures; 5) participant satisfaction; and 6) participant self-recorded food intake and activity. Results will be discussed with respect to the potential effectiveness of behavioral procedures for weight loss in I/DD, and the team’s plans for a large randomized controlled trial (RCT).
Empirically-derived, Individually Tailored Exercise Programs for Chronic Pain/Fibromyalgia.
ROBERT M. STEIN (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Abstract: Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood chronic pain syndrome that may involve some form of “somatosensory amplification” in which tactile stimulation and movement result in reports of pain exceeding what would otherwise be expected. Physical exercise programs are nearly universally recommended for chronic pain and fibromyalgia, but exercise can be a punishing experience with a low probability of maintenance. The current work sought to develop individualized exercise programs for individuals with chronic pain and fibromyalgia by focusing on several factors: 1) Movements that participants could engage in without pain, 2) Analysis of pain 1-3 days following exercise, and 3) Didactic instruction on the importance of movement in the management of chronic pain. A functional pain scale was developed that focused more on what participants could accomplish rather than a simple numeric scale. Data are presented demonstrating individualized development of exercise programs based on task performance and pain experience 1-3 days following exercise.
Indirect Measures of Putative Covert Behavior following Instructions to Perform Sport-related Visual Imagery.
AARON D. LESSER (Wesley College), Michael A. Kirkpatrick (Wesley College)
Abstract: Imagery is widely regarded as an effective performance enhancement technique for athletes. Imaginal procedures for overcoming fear or trauma are also supported by a large and growing literature. However, most researchers and clinicians view "images" as either mental events or brain states, not as covert behavior. We propose imagery be conceptualized as subtle, covert behavior dependent upon an establishing history and an occasioning stimulus. Without attempting to control for existing visual learning histories, we instructed college students to "vividly imagine a standing basketball shot" under three different conditions. Both group and single-subject, alternating treatments designs were implemented. Participants used a stopwatch to time their imagined shots and completed questionnaires about their observations. Brief video clips showing a long or short distance basketball shot were used as stimuli to influence responding. Results suggest that the role of learning history in covert behavior is underestimated. Acquisition functions over multiple trials support the view that although not intersubjectively verifiable, behavior following imagery instructions is acquired through conditioning mechanisms.



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