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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #58
CE Offered: BACB
Advancements in Preference and Choice Research across Multiple Applied Contexts
Saturday, May 23, 2009
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
North 128
Area: DDA/DEV; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Richard G. Smith (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: April Worsdell, Ph.D.
Abstract: Applied researchers have increasingly examined the variables that contribute to participant choices in applied settings and how those variables can influence the efficacy of therapeutic and educational arrangements. The present set of papers will extend this line of research across a range of populations, including individuals with intellectual and development disabilities, older adults with dementia, and typically developing children of pre-school age. The studies pose a variety of overlapping experimental questions related to: 1) the stability of individual preferences across time, as determined by common preference assessment methods; 2) changes in the relative strength of reinforcers under increasingly intermittent reinforcement schedules, as determined through progressive-ratio and behavioral economic analyses; and 3) how contingency, schedule-correlated stimuli, and delay to reinforcement influence choice responding. Findings from the studies are individually discussed in terms of their implications for the arrangement of optimal, and ecologically relevant, environments for these varying populations.
Preference Assessments for Older Adults with Dementia: Stability of Preferences Identified by Multiple Stimulus Assessments
PAIGE BROOKLEY RAETZ (Western Michigan University), Linda A. LeBlanc (Auburn University), Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University), Laura C Hilton (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Individuals with dementia suffer from a variety of cognitive deficits that can lead to a lack of engagement in activities. Preference assessments have been used effectively with individuals with developmental disabilities to determine preferences for items and activities that can be incorporated into treatment programs and leisure activity schedules. Recently, literature in the area of aging has begun to incorporate the use of systematic preference assessments to assess preference for leisure activities with adults with dementia but several research questions remain. The purpose of the current study was to assess the utility of the Multiple Stimulus Without Replacement (MSWO) assessment for older adults with dementia. In addition, the current study assessed the stability of preference for individuals diagnosed with dementia by administering repeated MSWO assessments over the span of 4-5 months. Results indicated that older adults in the mild to moderate range of dementia were able to complete the MSWO assessment and that the assessment did identify a hierarchy of preferred activities. Additionally, results indicate that for 2/3 participants preference remained stable over a 4-5 month time period.
Child Preference for Various Discontinuous Schedules of Social Interaction
KEVIN C. LUCZYNSKI (Western New England College), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England College)
Abstract: Children’s preference for contingent over noncontingent reinforcement has been repeatedly demonstrated (Hanley, Piazza, Fisher, Contrucci, & Maglieri, 1997; Luczynski & Hanley, in press), but only under continuous reinforcement schedules. Because continuous schedules of social interaction are impractical to arrange in everyday settings, the present study evaluated children’s preferences for several commonly prescribed, discontinuous schedules of social interaction; these included briefly signaled delayed reinforcement, multiple schedules of reinforcement in which signaled periods of extinction and contingent reinforcement alternated, and yoked noncontingent reinforcement in which the same amount reinforcement was provided on time-based schedules. Interobserver agreement was collected for 100% of preference selections and averaged 100%. Several comparisons involving 6 children showed that when a preference was demonstrated, children preferred noncontingent reinforcement to contingent but delayed reinforcement, and children preferred contingent reinforcement in a multiple schedule to both noncontingent reinforcement and contingent but delayed reinforcement. From these data, it appears that preference for contingent reinforcement is influenced by the strength of the contingency operating within a schedule. Implications for scheduling the delivery of reinforcement in ecologically-relevant situations will be discussed.
Evaluation of Functional and Alternative Reinforcers under Progressive Schedule Requirements
CAITLIN J. SMITH (Munroe Meyer Institute), Henry S. Roane (University of Nebraska Medical Center & Munroe-Meyer Institute), Kasey Stephenson (Munroe-Meyer Institute; UNMC)
Abstract: One effective treatment for destructive behavior is to deliver a functional reinforcer (i.e., those that maintain destructive behavior) contingent upon an alternative response. Providing contingent access to highly preferred alternative reinforcers (i.e., those that do not maintain problem behavior) also has been demonstrated to be effective at decreasing destructive behavior. However, recent research has suggested that existing preference assessments may not be optimal for identifying stimuli to be incorporated into interventions, particularly when the response requirements of the intervention vary. In the current study, functional analyses were used to identify the reinforcer that maintained 2 participants’ destructive behavior and preference assessments were used to identify alternative reinforcers. Next, the reinforcing effects of the functional and alternative reinforcers were assessed under progressively increasing response requirements. Finally, a treatment was developed in which the participants accessed either reinforcer following the omission of destructive behavior for a specific interval. For both participants, the reinforcer associated with more responding under the progressive response requirements was also associated with lower levels of destructive behavior during treatment. Results will be discussed in terms of using alternative methods to identifying effective interventions for destructive behavior.
Correspondence between Preference Shifts Occasioned by Increases in Unit Price and Increases in Reinforcer Delay
MICHELLE A. FRANK (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Melissa J. Allman (Kennedy Krieger Institute/Hopkins), Abbey Carreau (Kennedy Krieger Institutue), Mandy M. Triggs (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Although economic relations have been demonstrated using price manipulations for individuals with developmental disabilities, no study has examined the extent to which similar relations obtain with manipulations involving delay. The current study evaluated the correspondence between demand curves constructed for concurrently available stimuli when work requirements or delay to reinforcement for one stimulus was increased. Three individuals with developmental disabilities participated. Choices between stimuli were first assessed under concurrent FR1-FR1 schedules and then under schedule arrangements in which response requirements were held constant for one stimulus but increased across phases for the other stimulus. The average time between completion of the first response and delivery of reinforcement was assessed for each FR schedule. During the delay manipulation, the interval values replaced the ratio schedules such that the delay value was held constant at 0 s for one stimulus but increased across phases for the other stimulus. Results suggested that for the majority of comparisons, shifts in preference either did not occur when price and delay were manipulated or did occur and at similar values. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for development of effective training or treatment procedures for individuals with developmental disabilities.



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