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

Previous Page


Symposium #440
Behavioral Persistence: Basic Findings and Applied Implications
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
International South (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota)
Discussant: William V. Dube (University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Abstract: Maintenance can be conceptualized as a behavior's persistence under challenge. Behavioral momentum theoriy posits that distinct processes influce acquisition and maintenance of behavior. Although much is known about the influence of reinforcement on behavioral acquisition, less is known about the influence of reinforcement and stimulus control on maintenance. Three papers will be presented in this symposium, one basic, one basic human operant, and one applied to address some recent questions pertaining to the influence of schedules of reinforcement and stimulus control on behavioral persistence.
Resistance to Change and Preference for Fixed Versus Variable Response Sequences
RANDOLPH C. GRACE (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Dien Le (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Abstract: In Experiment 1 we attempted to replicate Doughty and Lattal’s (2001) result that resistance to change was greater for variable than repetitive response sequences. Pigeons responded in a two-component chain schedule in which repetitive or variable four-peck response sequences were reinforced in the terminal links. In the ‘repeat’ component, only left-right-left-right (LRLR) response sequences were reinforced, whereas in the ‘vary’ component sequences were reinforced provided that the weighted relative frequency of the sequence was low. The overall rate of reinforcement between the components was equated. After baseline training, resistance to change tests were conducted with prefeeding, response-independent food, and extinction as disruptors. Resistance to change was greater in the vary component for extinction and prefeeding tests, consistent with Doughty and Lattal (2001), but there were no systematic differences in the response-independent food test. In Experiment 2, pigeons responded in a concurrent-chains procedure in which the terminal links were identical to the repeat and vary components in Experiment 1. Relative reinforcement rate was changed across three conditions. Generalized matching analyses showed that response allocation was biased toward the variable alternative for all pigeons. These results show that pigeons prefer variable over fixed response sequences, and provide further support for the prediction of behavioral momentum theory (Nevin & Grace, 2000) that resistance to change and preference should be correlated.
The Influence of Magnitude of Reinforcement on Behavioral Persistence
ELLIE MAUEL (University of Minnesota), Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota), Angel Jimenez (University of Guadalajara, Mexico)
Abstract: Four adult female participants responded on a visual basic computer program designed to assess maintenance. During Phase I, a multiple schedule of concurrent reinforcement was held constant at VI 30 sec, while magnitude was varied across two components signaled by different colors (yellow and green). Responses on the left alternative produced a magnitude of 8 points and 2 points across respective components, while responses on the right alternative produced a magnitude of 1 point across both components. No points were delivered for any responses during the extinction phase that followed steady state responding. Based on the behavioral momentum literature, it was hypothesized that responding on the right alternative would persist more in the extinction component that had previously signaled the greater overall amount of reinforcement. Only two participants appeared to discriminate the differences in reinforcer magnitude across components. These participants’ right responses were more persistent in the component that signaled the greater magnitude of reinforcement during baseline training. The two participants whose baseline responding suggested that they did not discriminate the schedules across components did not show differences in persistence across components. Results are discussed in terms of the influence of magnitude of reinforcement on behavioral persistence. Implications for the study of behavioral maintenance are discussed.
The Influence of Stimulus-Reinforcer Relations on Behavioral Persistence
JENNIFER J. MCCOMAS (University of Minnesota), Ellie Mauel (University of Minnesota), Frank J. Symons (University of Minnesota), Joe Reichle (University of Minnesota)
Abstract: Behavioral persistence depends prpimarily on the stimulus-reinforcer contingency signaled by a discriminative stimulus, with behavior most persistent in the presence of stimuli that signal relatively rich schedules of reinforcement. The present experiment was designed to test the influence of distinctive stimulus conditions on behavioral persistence. Multiple concurrent schedules were arranged in which both appropriate and destructive behavior produced reinforcement in the presence of different discriminative stimulus arrangements. Extinction responding was assessed across trained and novel stimulus arrangements. Results are discussed in terms of the influence of stimulus control on persistence or maintenance of behavior.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh