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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #207
Lab Lore: Secrets of the Matching-to-Sample Procedure…REVEALED!!
Sunday, May 29, 2005
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Boulevard C (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Chad E. Drake (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Since Sidman’s (1971) landmark study, the Matching to Sample (MTS) procedure has facilitated a surge of empirical work on complex human behavior. Basically a conditional discrimination task, the MTS can provide a potent means for studying equivalence phenomena in humans. Embarking on a series of new MTS studies, members of a behavior analytic laboratory uncovered a number of unexpected trends in their data. These trends required numerous methodological considerations and adjustments. Because these adjustments were not completely systematic, an additional set of studies were conducted to directly address some of them. A final study examined the benefits of employing undergraduates in the laboratory. It is hoped that knowledge of this lab’s struggle may allow others to conduct more efficient and effective research with the MTS procedure.
These Participants Are Not Learning Correctly: Some Noteworthy Observations in a Behavior Analytic Laboratory
WILLIAM D. NEWSOME (University of Mississippi), Chad E. Drake (University of Mississippi), Catherine Adams (University of Mississippi), Rhonda M. Merwin (University of Mississippi), Jonathan Weinstein (University of Mississippi), Adam D. Hahs (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: In the past eighteen months, members of our lab have conducted a number of equivalence studies on such issues as social categorization, gender stereotypes, self-concept and evaluation, and stigma and obesity, among others. All of these studies have utilized the Matching to Sample (MTS) procedure. In each of them, certain unexpected methodological problems arose that required specific adjustments to these experiments. The researchers have contended with experimental effects surrounding pre-experimental instructions for the participants, practice effects, ceiling effects, particulars of the training and testing phases, and the form and function of the experimental stimuli. Most of these problems, to our knowledge, have not been directly addressed in the behavior analytic literature. Our story about these problems and our efforts to correct them may guide other researchers in the planning of their own studies.
Issues That We Forgot About: Familiarization, Practice Effects, and Ceiling Effects
JON N. BENSON (University of Mississippi), Chad E. Drake (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi), Jonathan Weinstein (University of Mississippi), Katie Patrick (University of Mississippi), Jackie Surrell (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Although the Matching to Sample (MTS) procedure is designed to explore behaviors that are thought to be pervasive in verbally competent humans, participants are usually unfamiliar with the procedure itself. Uncontrolled studies have suggested that performance with the MTS tends to improve over time. Because experimenters are usually not interested in measuring participant familiarity with the MTS procedure, a new study was conducted to explore the issues of familiarization and practice effects in order to minimize their influence. Uncontrolled studies have also indicated that excessive training during the MTS may result in ceiling effects during testing. Because experimenters are usually concerned with finding differences in outcomes across conditions, another new study was conducted to explore this issue in order to minimize its influence. These studies may indicate how to conduct more controlled and powerful experiments with the MTS.
Issues That We Wonder About: Stimulus Function
ADAM D. HAHS (University of Mississippi), Chad E. Drake (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi), Jonathan Weinstein (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: The chief concern of many experiments conducted with the Matching to Sample (MTS) procedure hangs on the participant’s pattern of responding to stimuli containing different functional properties. A number of our studies have contrasted behavior in relation to a set of relatively benign and meaningless stimuli, such as nonsensical words or symbols, with a set of provocative and socially loaded stimuli, such as meaningful words or faces. Some unexpected patterns and outcomes in our data have suggested a greater level of complexity in the selection of stimuli than previously realized. New studies were conducted to systematically examine these issues, particularly in terms of the number and variety of meaningful vs. non-meaningful stimuli included in an equivalence class. These studies may allow experimenters to design studies with more appropriate comparisons between conditions.
Issues That We Make Assumptions About: Using Undergraduates in the Laboratory
KATE KELLUM (University of Mississippi), Chad E. Drake (University of Mississippi), Jonathan Weinstein (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: The contingencies for conducting lab-based human operant research have lead many research laboratories, including ours, to depend on undergraduate students to test protocols, run participant sessions, and manage data files. Not only do these students lessen the workload on the more senior members of the lab, but we assume that the laboratory experiences enable the students to increase their verbal and non-verbal repertoires with regard to human operant research. This multiple-baseline across participants study examined this assumption.



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