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.


First International Conference; Italy, 2001

Event Details

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Paper Session #61
Reinforcement and Punishment
Thursday, November 29, 2001
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Bibliography Hall
Area: DDA
Chair: Steven I. Dworkin (University of North Carolina at Wilmington)
Distinguishing between Social-Positive Reinforcement and Automatic Reinforcement in Descriptive Analyses of Problem Behavior
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
KAREN J. HODGE (University of Birmingham, England)
Abstract: In descriptive assessments of problem behavior, it is often difficult to distinguish between behaviors maintained by automatic reinforcement and social-positive reinforcement. Given that schedules of reinforcement are likely to be very lean in natural environments, both have similar antecedents and consequents (low levels of social interaction). In this study, descriptive analyses were carried out for three children with problem behaviors in order to assess the likely function of their behavior. Each participant was observed for four hours in the natural classroom environment. Pre-specified child behaviors, teacher behaviors, and general classroom contexts were coded in real time and analysed using computer software. Inter-observer reliability was acceptable for all codes (Kappa $0.6). Conditional probabilities were calculated for the occurrence of environmental events given the presence of problem behavior and for the occurrence of problem behavior given the presence of environmental events. This method, used by Lerman and Iwata (1993) avoids potential confounds due to differing baseline frequencies of behaviours and events. The risk of misclassifying the function of problem behaviors based on a descriptive analysis is discussed in terms of the development of problem behaviors and early
Discriminative Stimuli for Punishment?
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
JENNIFER M. O'DONNELL (University of Kansas), Dean C. Williams (University of Kansas), Kathryn Saunders (University of Kansas)
Abstract: The extent to which response suppression is maintained and generalized often is a focus of laboratory studies of punishment. Frequently, maintained and generalized suppression also is a goal in interventions using punishment. Punishment contingencies involve two potential sources of control: antecedent stimuli and punishing stimuli. A common assumption is that antecedent stimulus control is established in the same manner with punishment as it is with reinforcement. A recent review of the animal and human punishment literature reveals that these assumptions may be false, and that the stimulus control involved in punishment may be more complex than originally thought. Determining the source of control has important theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, this issue bears on an avoidance conceptualization of punishment and whether discriminative stimulus control over punished behavior makes conceptual sense. Practically, antecedent control of aberrant behavior may be (1) more effective in the long term, (2) safer for the individual, (3) more feasible, and (4) more socially acceptable than delivering punishers. Results of the literature review will be presented briefly, followed by a detailed discussion of the theoretical and practical implications.



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