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 #422
Issues in Aversive Control: Spanning the Basic-to-Applied Continuum
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Boulevard A (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Adam H. Doughty (University of Kansas, Parsons)
Discussant: Joseph E. Spradlin (University of Kansas)
Abstract: This symposium will span the basic-to-applied continuum in behavior analysis and highlight several research topics in the area of aversive control. Starting on the basic end of the continuum, Dr. Critchfield will discuss how several recent advances made in the area of positive reinforcement have not been mirrored in the area of aversive control. Dr. Critchfield will describe how the absence of these advances in aversive control is detrimental to the field of behavior analysis. Turning towards the middle of the continuum, Dr. Doughty will discuss a review of the punishment literature that he and his colleagues recently conducted. The experimental and applied literatures were reviewed to delineate the different forms of stimulus control that have been established in studies of punishment. Progressing to the applied end of the continuum, Dr. Smith will discuss his research program involving punishment and problem behavior in persons with developmental disabilities. This program illustrates that punishment procedures can be useful in the arsenal of the applied behavior analyst, and that this utility can be enhanced by considering issues involving stimulus control. Dr. Spradlin will conclude the symposium with several comprehensive remarks regarding aversive control in terms of research, theory, and practice.
Aversive Control in the 21st Century: A Case of Arrested Development
THOMAS S. CRITCHFIELD (Illinois State University)
Abstract: It is well known that basic operant research on aversive control (punishment and negative reinforcement) essentially ground to a halt by the mid-1970s, but the functional implications of this state of affairs for operant theory are, I believe, badly underestimated. One way to conduct a status check is to survey advances in the study of positive reinforcement that have arisen since around the time that aversive-control research became defunct, and then examine what we know in parallel about aversive control. My survey will, time permitting, draw from among these topics: matching, molecular approaches to choice, temporal discounting, behavioral economics, behavioral momentum, and function transfer mediated via stimulus equivalence. An optimist could view these topics as opportunities just waiting to be exploited by some energetic young investigator. My assessment will be more curmudgeonly, portraying contemporary basic operant psychology as a hyper-specialized enterprise that, despite its successes, may have a limited capacity to exert scholarly influence.
Stimulus Control and Punishment: A Critical Review of the Literature
ADAM H. DOUGHTY (University of Kansas, Parsons), Jennifer M. O'Donnell (eCollege), Shannon S. Doughty (Parsons State Hospital and Training Center), Kathryn Saunders (University of Kansas, Parsons), Dean C. Williams (University of Kansas, Parsons)
Abstract: The primary purpose of the present review was to characterize the stimulus control that has developed in studies of punishment. Specifically, the goal was to determine whether the discriminative stimulus for response suppression was the antecedent stimulus correlated with punishment (e.g., stimuli correlated with different multiple-schedule components), the delivery of the punisher itself, or some combination thereof. Studies from the experimental and applied literatures, including both human and animal subjects, were reviewed. Several aspects of the studies were noted including, for example, whether the development of stimulus control was a focus of the study, and features of the punishment and reinforcement conditions (e.g., schedule of punishment). There have been relatively few unequivocal demonstrations of antecedent stimulus control over response suppression (i.e., control of punishment effects by the antecedent stimulus). Limitations in method as well as data analysis and presentation hindered firm conclusions regarding the establishment of antecedent stimulus control over punishment in a considerable number of the studies. The methodological, theoretical, and applied implications of the review are discussed.
Stimulus Control of Punished Behavior in Applied Settings: Maintenance, Generalization, and Transfer of Treatment Effects
RICHARD G. SMITH (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Although advances in function-based interventions have led to a decreased need for aversive treatments for problem behaviors in applied settings, punishment remains a viable alternative to address behavior disorders that are chronic and resistive to treatment or in cases where a mild punisher (e.g., reprimand) is effective and appropriate. Few studies have addressed the effective implementation of punishment in applied settings, and fewer still have investigated means of bringing punished behavior under stimulus control in order to generalize or maintain treatment effects. This presentation will review current applied literature on stimulus control over punished behavior, present selected data showing mediated stimulus generalization and response generalization of punishment effects, and discuss future directions for research and applications of stimulus control strategies when using punishment in applied settings.



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